The wife of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has become the latest Venezuelan official sanctioned as part of the Trump administration's ongoing efforts to pressure the Venezuelan leader, CNN reports.
Cilia Adela Flores de Maduro, the first lady and former attorney general of Venezuela, was one of four Venezuelans to be hit by sanctions, with sanctions on her the most likely to hit Maduro's personal pocketbook.
Three other people close to the president were also sanctioned, including Delcy Rodriguez, the executive vice president, the minister of popular power for communication and information Jorge Rodriguez, and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino.
The decision comes as the United States continues to ramp up pressure on the inner circle of Venezuelan politics. The desire of the administration is that these people will then put pressure on Maduro to make changes in the country.
In announcing the sanctions, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement, "we are continuing to designate loyalists who enable Maduro to solidify his hold on the military and the government while the Venezuelan people suffer."
The statement from Mnuchin was forceful, accusing the four individuals not just of helping Maduro keep power but also stealing from the people of Venezuela for themselves and for the president, according to Reuters.Like the sanctions placed on Maduro himself, The Guardian reports that these sanctions will prevent any American individual from doing any business with the four now added to the list. It will also see U.S. authorities seize any assets of the four newly sanctioned people.
Since taking office, Trump and his administration have sanctioned over 20 Venezuelan officials in two years, citing crimes from corruption to drug trafficking in the statements surrounding those sanctions.
Previously the administration had resisted sanctioning these high-level officials thinking that these leaders, especially Padrino, could be crucial in an eventual transition of the country to a democracy away from Maduro and thus did not want to anger them.
The U.S. has tried to gain support for oil sanctions, which would most directly impact the country as a whole. Those efforts have been resisted by energy companies and a number of human rights observers on the ground with both groups fearing that such sanctions could plunge the country into chaos.
Venezuela has already been facing issues in its economy with the Inquisitr previously reporting that Maduro had devalued the currency in an effort to stop rampant hyperinflation that has started leading to food and medicine shortages.