US imposes new sanctions on Venezuela

 The United States announced on Thursday (01/11) new sanctions against Venezuela, increasing economic pressure on the government of President Nicolás Maduro. The measures impact the South American country's gold exports.
 US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order banning US citizens from trading Venezuelan gold with entities and individuals who are allegedly acting in a corrupt manner within that sector.
 According to White House national security adviser John Bolton, Maduro's government uses this sector to fund illicit transactions, fill the coffers and support criminal groups.
 Washington estimates that 21 metric tons of gold, mainly destined for Turkey, would have been shipped out of Venezuela in recent months, according to Treasury Undersecretary Marshall Billingslea.
 In 2016, in an attempt to create an alternative source of income for oil, Maduro declared war on illegal mining and made gold a strategic priority. Opposition critics and leaders say the decision has led to an outbreak of mining and violence, with the government taking advantage of the benefits of illegal logging.
 Gold export revenues remain small in Venezuela compared to oil, accounting for 90% of the country's total export volume.
 In addition to Venezuela, Trump has also imposed sanctions on Cuba, claiming that the Caribbean island is helping Maduro. By the measure, the State Department added two dozen companies controlled by the Cuban army and intelligence services to the list of companies with which Americans are prohibited from conducting financial transactions.
 The rapprochement between Cuba and the United States, promoted under the Obama administration from 2014, has cooled with the arrival of Trump to the White House, which has tightened the rules for Americans to travel to the Caribbean island and for US companies to do business in the country.
The Trump government also threatened to impose sanctions on Nicaragua, but did not elaborate on concrete proposals. In announcing the measures in Miami, Bolton called the three countries the "Troika of Tyranny" in Latin America. The aide said that these countries represent the "destructive forces of oppression, socialism and totalitarianism."
 Venezuela faces a severe economic crisis that has worsened in recent years. Currently, 87% of the Venezuelan population is living in poverty. Maduro, however, claims to be the victim of an economic war led by the United States.
 The lack of security, low wages, high prices and a shortage of products and medicines have led, since 2015, almost 2 million Venezuelans to emigrate, especially to neighboring Brazil and Colombia, but also to Peru and Ecuador.

CN / efe / lusa / rtr

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