As the world continues to look at the situation in Venezuela with worry, the United States has followed through on its previously stated intention to “use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy”. On Monday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced
new sanctions against the regime of President Nicolas Maduro, targeting the state-owned oil company PdVSA, Maduro’s main source of cash.
“Today’s designation of PdVSA will help prevent further diverting of Venezuela’s assets by Maduro and preserve these assets for the people of Venezuela”, Mnuchin said. According to yesterday’s announcement, the latest measures block $7 billion in assets and could result in more than $11 billion in lost assets over the next year unless Maduro cedes control to interim president Guaidó or makes way for democratic elections.
Targeting Venezuela’s oil industry is the most severe sanction the U.S. has imposed on Maduro’s government so far, as the country’s economy is extremely dependent on oil exports. The United States has long been the biggest market
for Venezuelan crude oil, adding weight to yesterday’s announcement. As the following chart shows, Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, making the country’s current state seem as unnecessary as it is tragic.