Trump: Tougher Venezuela Sanctions 03/20 06:27
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the
United States could impose harsher sanctions on Venezuela in its campaign to
oust President Nicolas Maduro.
Recent power outages across Venezuela show that "something terrible is going
on down there" and "we need to put an end" to the current dire situation, Trump
said at a joint news conference with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the
Both Brazil and the United States have voiced support for Venezuelan
opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been recognized as the country's
legitimate leader by about 50 countries. In a bid to force a change of
leadership, the United States has imposed oil sanctions on Venezuela as well as
sanctions on individuals associated with the government of Maduro, who charges
that he is the target of a U.S. coup plot.
The U.S. could impose "a lot tougher" sanctions on Venezuela if needed,
Trump said, and he also repeated that "all options are open" when dealing with
the crisis in Venezuela. He added that the United States is "not looking for
anything other than taking care of a lot of people."
Venezuela's government rejected "the dangerous statements" of Trump and
"The U.S. warlike influence on Brazil and the supremacist theses of Donald
Trump on Jair Bolsonaro are of great concern," it said in a statement.
"Undoubtedly, both presidents reflect the most retrograde ideas for the peoples
of the region, as well as for world peace and security."
U.S. officials say they are focused on putting diplomatic and financial
pressure on Maduro's government, which says Trump is preparing for military
intervention in a country struggling with hyperinflation and shortages of basic
goods. In recent years, more than 3 million Venezuelans have fled a country
that was once one of Latin America's wealthiest nations because of its vast oil
The U.S. and Guaido attributed recent nationwide blackouts on alleged graft
and mismanagement under Maduro, who blamed what he said was U.S.-directed
On Tuesday, the U.S. added a Venezuelan state-owned mining company to a
growing sanctions list as it seeks to increase pressure on Maduro. The move
bars any U.S. citizen or entity from any financial transactions with the
Minerven gold mining company and its president, Adrian Antonio Perdomo Mata.
The company is helping prop up Maduro, the U.S. Treasury Department said.
The Treasury Department also lifted sanctions on the wives of two Venezuelan
TV magnates close to Maduro two months after their U.S. assets were frozen as
part of a crackdown on corruption.
Maria Alexandra Perdomo and her husband, Raul Gorrin, were among seven
individuals sanctioned in January for allegedly running a graft network that
stole $2.4 billion from state coffers through corrupt currency deals.
Her removal from the blacklist Tuesday, along with the wife of Gorrin's
brother-in-law and business partner, Raul Perdomo, suggests the two women may
be cooperating with U.S. authorities trying to untangle the web of corruption
that proliferated during two decades of socialist rule in Venezuela.
Prosecutors in Miami indicted Gorrin last year on charges of bribing Venezuelan
In Rome, officials from the U.S. and Russia remained split on how to resolve
the crisis in Venezuela after talks there. Elliott Abrams, the Trump
administration's special envoy to Venezuela, met with Russian Deputy Foreign
Minister Sergei Ryabkov.
"We did not come to a meeting of the minds, but the talks were positive in
the sense that I think both sides emerged with a better understanding of the
other's views," Abrams told reporters.
Russia backs Maduro and has accused Washington of meddling in Venezuela's
affairs by pressing him to step down and hand over power to Guaido, the leader
of the opposition-controlled congress who wants to hold elections.
Speaking to Russian media, Ryabkov emphasized the need for dialogue with the
U.S. but warned Washington against any military intervention.
"We have warned the U.S. against that reckless approach," Ryabkov said in
remarks that were carried by the state Tass and RIA Novosti news agencies.