Trump: Tougher Venezuela Sanctions 03/20 06:27

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 
White House.

   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.


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