US Treasury Department Imposes Sanctions on Venezuelan Supreme Court

Hyperinflation, street protests, food and medicine shortages, and a collapsed economy while Maduro is clinging to power are driving PDVSA and Venezuela closer to default.

Large-scale protests, caused by a complex economic situation and the confrontation between the parliament and the government, have been going on in Venezuela since April.

On May 1, President Nicolas Maduro called for a new Constitution as a way to overcome the political crisis, and pushed for forming a constituent assembly to draft the document.

Those blacklisted by the Treasury Department include Maikel Moreno, the president of the pro-government Supreme Court, as well as all seven justices who signed a ruling in late March stripping the opposition-controlled congress of its last remaining powers.

"The Venezuelan people are suffering from a collapsing economy brought about by their government's mismanagement and corruption", Steven Mnuchin, the United States treasury secretary, said in a statement. "By imposing these targeted sanctions, the United States is supporting the Venezuelan people in their efforts to protect and advance democratic governance in their country".

The UN Security Council turned its attention to the growing crisis in Venezuela for the first time on Wednesday, May 17, as the U.S. warned of the consequences of "serious instability" in the country.

In March, the Venezuelan Supreme Court temporarily dissolved the National Assembly and assumed the powers of the legislature.

A woman looks on at the aftermath of a looted supermarket in Capacho, Venezuela following a wave of anti-government protests.

A ruling issued in late March that stripped Venezuela's congress of its last powers was later reversed amid a storm of worldwide criticism.

The executive order issued Thursday marked the second time the USA has sanctioned leaders of Venezuela's socialist government since Donald Trump became president this year.

In February, the Trump administration also slapped Venezuela's vice president with what are called kingpin sanctions, for his role in the alleged trafficking of illegal drugs. But sanctions so far have stopped short of hit ting the oil sector in Venezuela, which is a major USA oil supplier.

The two spoke on condition of anonymity after being briefed on the action, which they say could come as early as Thursday.

The court said the National Assembly was in contempt over vote-buying acc us ations against three lawmakers.

Uruguay's Ambassador Elbio Rosselli, who holds the council presidency this month, said the Organization of American States (OAS) and other regional bodies were best-placed to help address the crisis.

Marco Rubio of Florida, the main congressional backer of Trump's hardened stance toward Maduro, said of the sanctions.

  • Zachary Reyes