The Trump administration imposed sanctions Monday on the state-owned oil company of Venezuela, PDVSA, a potentially critical economic move aimed at increasing pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to cede power to the opposition, the AP reports. National security adviser John Bolton and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the measures against the company. They are also aimed at boosting Maduro's rival, opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom the administration recognized last week as Venezuela's legitimate leader. The sanctions will include a freeze on any assets the firm may have in US jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with it. Senator Marco Rubio, a vocal critic of Maduro who has called for such sanctions, welcomed the move even before it was announced.
"The United States is holding accountable those responsible for Venezuela's tragic decline, and will continue to use the full suite of its diplomatic and economic tools to support Interim President Juan Guaido, the National Assembly, and the Venezuelan people's efforts to restore their democracy," Mnuchin said. "Today's designation of PDVSA will help prevent further diverting of Venezuela's assets by Maduro and preserve these assets for the people of Venezuela. The path to sanctions relief for PDVSA is through the expeditious transfer of control to the Interim President or a subsequent, democratically elected government," he said. The sanctions will not likely affect consumer prices at the gas pump but will hit oil refiners, particularly those on the US Gulf Coast.
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