Jan. 29, 2019– Mary Greeley News – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has authorized Venezuelan opposition leader and self-declared interim president, Juan Guaido, to take control of US-held assets belonging to the country’s government.
The certification, issued on Tuesday, applies to certain Venezuelan government and Central Bank property held by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or any other US insured banks.
“This certification will help Venezuela’s legitimate government safeguard those assets for the benefit of the Venezuelan people,” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido swore himself in as Venezuela’s interim president last Wednesday and was recognized as the country’s legitimate leader by the United States shortly afterwards. President Nicolas Maduro denounced Guaido’s claim as a “vile,” Washington-sponsored coup attempt, and severed diplomatic relations with the US in response.
Much of the Western world followed suit in recognizing Guaido and isolating Maduro. The Bank of England reportedly blocked Maduro from withdrawing $1.2 billion worth of gold stored in the UK late last week, and Secretary Pompeo announced that $20 million in humanitarian aid for Venezuela will be distributed through Guaido.
US sanctions have effectively barred Maduro’s government from borrowing on international markets and targeted anyone involved in gold sales from Venezuela. Venezuela’s gold reserves are estimated at more than $8 billion, while the value of its assets in American banks is unclear.
Venezuela’s chief prosecutor has asked the country’s top court to impose a travel ban on opposition leader Juan Guaido and freeze his accounts.
Mr Maduro, who was sworn in earlier this month for a second term after disputed elections last year, accuses Mr Guaido of staging a US-directed coup.
The Trump administration further ratcheted up its pressure campaign on Maduro by announcing sanctions against Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA on Monday. The US Treasury Department seized $7 billion in PDVSA assets, and the sanctions will affect $11 billion worth of oil exports over the coming year.
Venezuelan petroleum company Citgo will continue operating in the US, but its profits will go into a blocked account, only accessible to Guaido’s government, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explained.
Mnuchin added that sanctions will only be lifted upon the “expeditious transfer of control to the interim president, or the subsequently democratically elected interim government.”
Maduro has denounced the sanctions as an attempt to “steal” Citgo from Venezuela and said that PDVSA will take legal action.
The Venezuelan opposition led by self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido just needs the country’s military to back him in order to bring down the government, Guaido’s wife Fabiana Rosales said in an interview published in an Argentine newspaper on Tuesday.
Rosales told La Nacion that “very little” was missing to bring down Maduro, who succeeded Hugo Chavez as Venezuela’s president in 2013.
“What’s missing here is what we’ve said every day: the military. We have everything else: the international community, the people on the streets and the resources that will be repatriated,” Rosales, a 26-year-old journalist, told La Nacion.
Rosales, who told the newspaper she considers herself neither left-wing nor right-wing, said she met Guaido almost seven years ago, when both were activists in the opposition organization Popular Will.
“This regime has spent 20 years destroying young people and the future,” she told La Nacion. “All the leaders of the opposition share the same goal. To free Venezuela.”