Venezuelan Foreign Minister Denounces Sanctions at UN as Trump Issues New Threats

Trump said there could be “serious sanctions” in the near future.


Mérida, February 27, 2020 ( – Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza denounced US sanctions at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday.

Speaking at the 43rd Session of the UNHRC in Geneva, Arreaza described the measures from the US Treasury Department as “economic terrorism.”

“It is down to the UN and the UNHRC to lead urgent humanitarian efforts against the massive human rights violations that these sanctions represent,” he said.

The top diplomat stated that Washington has imposed over 300 unilateral measures since 2014, which he claimed has cost the South American nation an estimated US $120 billion. Caracas has recently submitted a lawsuit against the US at the International Criminal Court, arguing that sanctions constitute a “crime against humanity.”

Arreaza added that countries which impose sanctions should be barred from the UNHRC and criticized the use of the body for “political attacks” against some of its members.

The 47-member council will be in session until March 20. Venezuela was elected to the body in October 2019 for a two-year period.

Arreaza’s comments coincided with renewed threats by US President Donald Trump.

“There could be very serious sanctions,” he said in a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday. “You are going to see in a little while.”

The US Treasury Department has imposed successive rounds of punishing sanctions against the Venezuelan economy in recent months. After targeting various economic sectors, particularly oil, Washington imposed a blanket ban on all transactions with Venezuelan state entities in August.

The August embargo also authorized secondary sanctions against third party entities dealing with Caracas. After reiterated threats, the US imposed sanctions against a trading subsidiary of Russian oil giant Rosneft last week for buying oil cargoes from Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

Rosneft stepped up its purchases of Venezuelan crude following the August sanctions. With many companies shying away from buying directly from PDVSA, the Russian state firm transported as much as 60 percent of the country’s production before rerouting to other destinations.

White House Special Envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams confirmed on Monday that Washington is targeting Venezuela’s oil sector.

Abrams told Reuters in an interview that the Trump administration will target customers that buy Venezuelan oil, even indirectly.

“Rosneft Trading is a middle-man. What about the customers who are mainly in Asia? We will be talking with them,” he said, adding that sanctions against Chinese companies are “on the table.”