Puebla, Mexico, January 5, 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The United States imposed new sanctions Friday on four prominent Venezuelans, including government officials and military personnel.
Among those targeted was Aragua state Governor Rodolfo Marco Torres. Marco Torres was President Nicolas Maduro’s food minister until August 2017 and previously served as finance minister as well as head of the country’s central bank.
“Marco Torres has been allegedly linked to corruption schemes related to food imports, which are controlled by the Venezuelan military,” the US Department of the Treasury claimed.
Other targets of new sanctions included former Bolivar state Governor Francisco Rangel, the National Guard’s Capital District Division commander, General Fabio Zavarse, and Executive Secretary of the Presidential Border Commission Gerardo Izquierdo. All four officials including Marco Torres have served in Venezuela’s armed forces and were accused of links to corruption in the military.
“These designations, all against senior military officers, highlight that corruption and repression continue to flourish under the Maduro regime, both by those in current government positions and former officials who continue to benefit from a corrupt system, even as Venezuela’s citizens, economy, and constitutionally enshrined democratic institutions languish,” the Treasury alleged.
The Trump administration did not, however, provide evidence to support the corruption allegations.
Under the sanctions, the four officials are now subject to asset freezes, and “US persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them”.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the move “underscores the United States’ resolve to hold [President Nicolas] Maduro and others engaged in corruption in Venezuela accountable”.
“President Maduro and his inner circle continue to put their own interests above those of the Venezuelan people,” he said.
The move marks the seventh round of sanctions imposed by the Trump administration against Venezuela, including a financial ban announced in August.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza responded by blasting the new sanctions as “interventionist”.
“The [Venezuelan armed forces] will never bow to any foreign power, and much less to the imperialist and warlike forces of the supremacist government of Donald Trump,” Arreaza said on state media AVN.
“We demand respect for the people of Venezuela and its institutions,” he said.