USA imposes sanctions against Venezuela as president refuses to step down

USA imposes sanctions against Venezuela as president refuses to step down

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the sanctions would block $US7 billion ($9.8 billion) in PDVSA's assets, "plus over $11 billion in lost export proceeds over the next year".

In a statement issued on January 26, the European Union called for the "urgent holding of free, transparent and credible presidential elections in accordance with internationally democratic standards and the Venezuelan constitutional order".

Venezuela's attorney general, Tarek Saab, has asked the country's supreme court to open a preliminary investigation against self-proclaimed president Juan Guaidó, and to freeze the opposition leader's accounts.

"I think it's possible for the community of democracies to leverage the referral to the ICC ... to put the military leadership in Venezuela on notice that they can be held accountable for their crimes should they continue to support Maduro", Mr. Cotler told The Globe and Mail last week.

"We can't allow Venezuelan oil to be stolen", he said in a speech on state television.

The head of state claim by the 35-year-old leader of the opposition-led national assembly has garnered the backing from most Western powers led by the United States.

The US, Canada, Australia and most of the OAS members have recognized Guaido as president, while Russia, China, Cuba and Bolivia have gone on the record in support of Maduro.

Under the sanctions, payments for USA imports of Venezuelan crude will need to be placed into blocked accounts, a de facto embargo that essentially forces PdVSA to ship crude to the US for free.

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International Brent crude oil futures rose over 2 percent on Tuesday in reaction.

The Kremlin considers the sanctions against PDVSA as "illegal", a sign of "unfair competition" and an attempt to interfere with Venezuela's internal affairs, Peskov said on Tuesday.

PDSVA is the acronym for the state-owned oil company.

Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak told Russian state news agencies that "there will probably be problems" for Venezuela in paying its debts.

The U.S. State Department raised its travel advisory for Venezuela to level 4 and warned that Americans have been arbitrarily detained "for long periods" in the politically unstable nation.

"We've seen Venezuelan official and military personnel heeding this call", he added, citing the defection this weekend of the country's military attache to Washington.

The loss of revenue from the United States, the No. 1 buyer of Venezuelan crude, was sure to further hamper the government's ability to import basic goods like food and medicine, exacerbating a humanitarian crisis that has prompted more than 3 million people to flee the hyperinflation-stricken country in recent years.

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