Caracas, January 14, 2020 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Trump administration imposed sanctions on leading opposition members of Venezuela’s National Assembly (AN) Monday.
In a statement, the US Treasury Department moved to blacklist AN President Luis Parra, First Vice President Franklin Duarte, Second President Jose Noriega, and Secretary Negal Morales. Also named were senior opposition legislators Jose Brito, Conrado Perez, and Adolfo Superlano.
The measures freeze any US-based assets belonging to the individuals and prohibit US citizens from doing business with them.
Speaking at a press conference, Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin accused the lawmakers of “attempt[ing] to block the democratic process in Venezuela.” He added that the politicians can have sanctions removed “if they side with the people of Venezuela and Juan Guaido as their legitimate leader.”
On January 5, Parra was chosen to lead parliament in the body’s annual leadership election, winning the support of several dozen dissident opposition deputies and the pro-government legislative bloc.
However, outgoing AN President Juan Guaido rejected the vote as fraudulent, installing a parallel parliament with the backing of legislators abroad fleeing charges as well as a number of substitute deputies. The disputed election places in question Guaido’s self-proclaimed title of “interim president,” which the opposition leader assumed last January with the support of Washington.
In an official statement, Parra and the AN leadership “categorically” rejected the sanctions, which they claimed, “in no way contribute to creating contexts for understanding that put citizens at the center of the agenda to attend their needs.”
For its part, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry also released a communique slamming the measures as “against international law and threatening the stability, peace, and self-determination of the Venezuelan people.”
Since 2017, the Trump administration has imposed successive rounds of harsh sanctions on Venezuela in its bid to oust the Maduro government. In addition to measures against high-ranking officials, Washington has targeted key sectors of the Venezuelan economy, decreeing an oil embargo last January. The measures were later escalated to a blanket ban on all dealings with the Venezuelan state, authorizing secondary sanctions against third party actors in what has been likened to the US sanctions regime imposed on Iran.