The United States on Friday (local time) sanctioned Venezuela's state-owned Bandes bank as a retaliatory measure after the Nicolas Maduro-led regime arrested one of Juan Guaido's closest aides.
"BANDES bank is to Venezuela's financial sector what PDVSA is to its oil sector. This action will severely affect any attempted currency movements by Maduro and his cronies moving forward. Do not test the resolve of this Administration," US National Security Advisor John Bolton tweeted.
The bank's four additional subsidiaries have also been designated. All properties owned by the bank and its entities in the United States have been blocked, an official notification by the US Treasury Department noted.
"The willingness of Maduro's inner-circle to exploit Venezuela's institutions knows no bounds. Regime insiders have transformed BANDES and its subsidiaries into vehicles to move funds abroad in an attempt to prop up Maduro. Maduro and his enablers have distorted the original purpose of the bank, which was founded to help the economic and social well-being of the Venezuelan people, as part of a desperate attempt to hold onto power," Treasury Secretary Steven T Mnuchin stated.
"The regime's continued use of kidnapping, torture, and murder of Venezuelan citizens will not be tolerated by the US or the international coalition that is united behind President Guaido. Roberto Marrero and other political prisoners must be released immediately," he added.
The sanctions come a day after Bolton promised to take action against the Maduro regime in the wake of Roberto Marrero's arrest.
Venezuela's intelligence service had detained two of Guaido's associates, out of which one has been recognised as Marrero who had rifles and a grenade in possession at the time of arrest. The Latin American nation's Minister of Interior Nestor Reverol on Thursday alleged that Marrero was part of a terror cell which planned attacks.
While one of the arrested has been let off, Marrero still continues to be under detention.
"When the dictator Maduro uses imprisonment & intimidation against the legitimate government of Venezuela, America will respond. The United States will continue to stand strong with the people of Venezuela. FREE MARRERO NOW!" US Vice President Mike Pence tweeted on Friday.
Venezuela has been in the throes of a political crisis after Guaido proclaimed himself as the President of the nation in January. The United States immediately recognised Guaido's claim and back the opposition leader, along with asking other countries to recognise Guaido as the interim President.
Maduro, who is the elected President of the nation, decried the events and accused the US of plotting a coup to overthrow him by supporting Guaido. He continues to hold on to his post despite calls by the international community for fresh elections.
Amongst other sanctions, the United States has previously proscribed Venezuela's state-owned oil and natural gas company PDVSA in a bid to stifle funding to the Maduro regime.
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