The United States on Monday sanctioned three Venezuelans and 20 companies with ties to socialist President Nicolas Maduro, for narcotics trafficking activity. Vice President Mike Pence also called for nations to increase pressure on Caracas.
This new sanctions is part of U.S. measures on individuals connected to Maduro, who Trump’s administration has blamed for deep recession and hyperinflation in OPEC member Venezuela that has resulted in food shortages and also sent tens of thousands of migrants into neighboring countries.
The individual sanctioned on Monday are fairly low-profile and are unlikely to create major economic hardship.
At the meeting with the 35-nation Organization of American States, which includes Venezuela as a member, Pence told the member states that they need to take greater steps to isolate Maduro.
“We believe it is time to do more, much more,” Pence said in an address to the OAS. “Every free nation gathered here must take stronger action to stand with the Venezuelan people and stand up to their oppressors.”
Pence added that the OAS should suspend Venezuela’s membership and urged other members to cut off the nation’s leader from financial systems and restrict them from travel visas.
Vice President Pence also called Maduro to suspend the country’s elections coming up on May 20, saying he expected voter intimidation and manipulation of data. “There will be no real election in Venezuela on May 20, and the world knows it,” Pence said.
However, Venezuela’s ambassador to the United Nations, Samuel Moncada has condemned Pence’s speech saying “There is zero possibility that elections will be suspended. ”
Maduro who was subject to sanctions last year, seems unmoved about Washington’s disapproval and blames the U.S. “empire” for his country economic woes, saying it is trying to undermine his administration.