The Trump administration on Friday slapped sweeping financial sanctions on Venezuela, barring banks from any new financial deals with the government or state-run oil giant PDVSA, per the AP. The sanctions Trump signed by executive order are bound to dramatically escalate tensions between Venezuela and the US and exacerbate the country's economic crisis. "These measures are carefully calibrated to deny the Maduro dictatorship a critical source of financing to maintain its illegitimate rule, protect the United States financial system from complicity in Venezuela's corruption and in the impoverishment of the Venezuelan people, and allow for humanitarian assistance," the White House said in a statement.
The actions prohibit dealings in new debt and equity issued by the government of Venezuela and its state oil company. They also prohibit dealings in certain existing bonds owned by the Venezuelan public sector, as well as dividend payments to the government of Venezuela. But they stop short of cutting off US imports of Venezuelan oil that are crucial both to Venezuela's economy and US oil refiners. Vice President Mike Pence had signaled the upcoming move earlier, tweeting that the US "will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles." Last month, the Trump administration promised to take strong economic actions if President Nicolas Maduro's increasingly authoritarian government went ahead with plans to create a constitutional assembly comprised of government loyalists. The new assembly has since been seated. (Read more Venezuela stories.)