Nicolás Maduro speaking into a microphone (© Matias Delacroix/Getty Images)
Nicolás Maduro (© Matias Delacroix/Getty Images)

President Trump on August 5 ordered the full freezing of Venezuelan government assets within the United States, sharply escalating economic pressure on the former Maduro regime in Venezuela.

Along with licenses issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, these measures provide safeguards for the Venezuelan people’s access to humanitarian goods and activities of the interim government under Juan Guaidó.

“The United States is acting assertively to cut off Maduro financially and accelerate a peaceful democratic transition,” National Security Advisor John Bolton said of the U.S. sanctions at a meeting of the Lima Group on August 6 in Lima, Peru.

In issuing the executive order, Trump cited Nicolás Maduro’s “continued usurpation of power” and the former regime’s human rights abuses. Since coming to power in 2013, Maduro’s corruption and economic mismanagement have brought economic disaster to a country that was once the richest in South America. According to U.N. reports, more than 4 million Venezuelans have been displaced.

According to credible reporting by nongovernmental organizations, the regime has committed 6,856 extrajudicial killings and arrested 2,939 people on political grounds in the past year.

In response, the U.S. has enacted multiple sanctions targeting Maduro, his family and members of his regime, as well as entities that enrich the former regime. Fifty-five countries, including the United States, have recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president.

The new sanctions prohibit U.S. persons (including anyone present in U.S. territories) from transacting business with the former Maduro regime.

Some countries have been supporting Maduro in the hope of recouping earlier loans.

“Do not double down on a bad debt,” Bolton warned in discussing the latest sanctions. “The quickest route to getting repaid is to support a new legitimate government.”