The South American country of Venezuela has been plunged into an economic and political crisis of late. While President Nicolás Maduro is technically still in office, the past week has seen more than 20 countries around the world acknowledge the opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president, including the United States.
Now the American government seems to be taking further action against Venezuela. Senator Marco Rubio has stated that the Trump administration is poised to impose sanctions on a big government-owned oil company, according to the Associated Press.
President Donald Trump’s administration has been hesitant to impost these sanctions in the past due to the fear that it would send fuel prices through the roof in the U.S. Rubio has explained the reason the administration has decided to play this card is to put pressure on Maduro to officially step down from his post, and transfer power over the oil reserves to his opposition. The Florida Republican senator has praised the decision to take this action.
The administration is apparently poised to impose their sanctions as early as Monday on the Venezuelan company known commercially as PDVSA. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has stated that those working in the oil sector in Venezuela are also subject to the U.S. sanctions.
Sanctions will include “freezing any assets the firm may have in U.S. jurisdictions and barring Americans from doing business with it.”
“The path to sanctions relief for PDVSA is through the expeditious transfer of control to the interim president or a subsequent democratically elected government who is committed to taking concrete and meaningful actions to combat corruption,” Mnuchin said during a press briefing from the White House.
The sanctions also mean that while U.S. companies may continue to purchase oil from Venezuela, the money that gets paid to the company must go into a blocked account that Maduro and his administration will not be able to access.
Mnuchin has stated that the sanctions are not expected to cause an oil price hike for consumers in the United States.
So far Maduro, who declared himself the winner of a recent controversial election, has not backed down from his position despite riots breaking out in the streets of the country. One of the major countries that supports Maduro is Russia. Venezuela’s ministry of defense is also siding with the president.
Other major countries are also holding emergency meetings to decide what to do about Venezuela and their relations with the country. Canada is one such nation, with plans to host an emergency meeting of the 14-nation Lima Group in Ottawa next week.