U.S. Sanctions Venezuelan President's Wife for Corruption


The U.S. on Tuesday imposed sanctions on a number of people in Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's inner circle, including his wife and the South American country's new vice president.

"Today, socialism has bankrupted the oil rich nation and driven it's people into abject poverty", Trump said of Venezuela.

The measure sanctioned six officials in Maduro's "inner circle", including Vice President Delcy Rodriguez and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, and "blocked" a $20 million private jet identified as belonging to a front-man of a top official.

"We ask the nations gathered here to join us in calling for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela", Trump said.

"I just want to see Venezuela straightened out, I want the people to be safe", he stated.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro walks with his wife Cilia Flores upon their arrival at the airport in Beijing, China, on September 13, 2018.

Beyond rallying Maduro's opponents, it's unclear what impact the sanctions will have.

Inflation is running at 200 000 percent and basic foods and medicines, like rice and antibiotics, are increasingly hard to obtain.

"I'm surrounded by sanctioned (officials)", he said.

Maduro is still seeking a face-to-face meeting with Trump.

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week said sanctions on Venezuela were in the pipeline.

"Thank you Donald Trump", Maduro said during a broadcast on state television, as quoted by Reuters. The White House declined his request a year ago demanding that he restore Democracy in Venezuela first.

According to the United States migration and refugee organizations, more than 2.3 million Venezuelans are living overseas including 1.6 million who fled the country since 2015.

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Cabello and his associates in May for exploiting his office to "engage in narcotics trafficking, money laundering, embezzlement of state funds, and other corrupt activities".

Maduro refuted the United Nations refugee numbers, saying in September that only 600,000 left the country and that 9 in 10 want to come back.

Among the figures targeted by the U.S. are First Lady of Venezuela Cilia Flores, who used to serve as attorney general under the late Hugo Chavez, and is now a legislator.

In addition, Trump invoked the Monroe doctrine - a USA policy of the early 19th century that warned non-regional powers to stay away from Latin America - that is widely seen in the region as an outdated policy that was used as an excuse to invade foreign countries.

"For Trump to go to the United Nations and denigrate the ICC at a time when five Latin American democracies are about to submit a first-ever petition to that same tribunal to bring Maduro to justice is shameful", says Jose Miguel Vivanco, head of the Americas' division of the Human Rights Watch advocacy group.

The Trump administration and many Latin American government, however, blame Venezuela's economic meltdown on reckless money printing, dysfunctional currency controls and poor management by Maduro's administration.