On March 22nd, the US Treasury sanctioned Banco de Desarrollo Economico y Social de Venezuela, or BANDES, a Venezuelan state bank in response to the arrest of US-Proclaimed President Juan Guaido’s chief of staff, Roberto Marrero.
“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,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The regime’s continued use of kidnapping, torture, and murder of Venezuelan citizens will not be tolerated by the U.S. or the international coalition that is united behind President Guaido. Roberto Marrero and other political prisoners must be released immediately.”
Following is the list entities that were blacklisted:
- BANDES is based in Venezuela, and is a state-owned and controlled bank;
- Banco Bandes Uruguay S.A. is based in Uruguay. In early 2019, Maduro tried to move over one billion dollars out of Venezuela via BANDES to its subsidiary in Uruguay, Banco Bandes Uruguay S.A;
- Banco Bicentenario del Pueblo, de la Clase Obrera, Mujer y Comunias, Banco Universal C.A. is based in Venezuela;
- Banco de Venezuela, S.A. Banco Universal is based in Venezuela;
- Banco Prodem S.A. is based in Bolivia.
The sanctions are the general ones that generally prohibit all US citizens to deal with the entities and any assets or properties they may own in the US are frozen.
In addition, BANDES’ Chief Executive and President of the Board Alejandro Zerpa Delgado has been sanctioned since July 26th, 2017.
In response, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza posted a government statement condemning the unilateral US decision.
La Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela rechaza las medidas unilaterales, coercitivas e ilegales anunciadas por el gobierno supremacista de EEUU, que impactan al Banco de Desarrollo Económico y Social de Venezuela (Bandes) y cuatro (4) importantes instituciones financieras del país pic.twitter.com/nrwBQBHS3j
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) March 22, 2019
“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela rejects unilateral, coercive and illegal measures announced by the U.S. supremacist government, which impact the Economic and Social Development Bank of Venezuela (BANDES) and four (4) important Financial institutions of the country.”
The statement reads the following:
“This attack that directly attacks the heart of the finances of the Venezuelan people, demonstrates the imperial hypocrisy, which offers a false kind of humanitarian aid, while attacking the sources of generation of Venezuelan resources through direct sanctions against PDVSA and Minerven; and now against the national financial circuit, with the intention of preventing the materialization of the social and productive plans promoted by the public and private economic agents of the country.”
This followed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned gold mining company and its president on March 19th.
On March 22nd, the US also warned the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro over the detention of US citizens, including six executives from Houston-based oil company Citgo Petroleum who have been jailed since 2017.
“We will hold Maduro and his prison officials to account for their safety and well-being,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
US National Security Adviser also continued his usual rhetoric and claims. In an interview with Breitbart on March 21st, he said that the US is obligated to protect approximately 50,000 US citizens in Venezuela.
“President Trump himself has been clear on this point on any number of occasions when he says all options are on the table. I think people need to understand and believe that; he’s very serious about it,” Bolton said. “And I’d just point out one very important statistic: we estimate right now in Venezuela there are between 40 and 50,000 American citizens, and the government of the United States has no higher duty internationally than to protect its citizens from violence and intimidation. So that’s something that I think everybody needs to keep in mind.”
In spite of all the facts and regime change efforts by the US and allies, Bolton said that the US wished to let Venezuelans make their own decisions.
“What we’d like to do is let the Venezuelan people make their own decisions here, not through a government controlled by Cuba’s surrogate for Russia, not through what we call the debt-diplomacy of China trying to finagle its way in to countries all around the world and get control of Venezuela’s oil reserves,” he said.
In terms of blaming Cuba over the Venezuelan crisis, Bolton claimed that a Venezuelan military counter-intelligence official (DGCIM) gave testimony before the Organization of American States. The official spoke “he brutal torture of political prisoners & how the Venezuelan security forces are monitored & directed by Cuban officers.”
US-Proclaimed President Juan Guaido continued his usual rounds and calls for “Operation Freedom.” He continues to call the Venezuelan people to attend large scale rallies and organize riots, but it seems to be leading nowhere.
Guaido even tried an uncommon way of pressure. Venezuelan head football coach Rafael Dudamel said he was ready to resign. He spoke to Antonio Ecarri, designated by Guaido as his ambassador to Spain.
“We have been living through very complicated times, and we are very politicized,” Dudamel told reporters after the game. “We respectfully received the visit of the ambassador, Mr. Antonio Ecarri … just as we have [in the past] received the ambassador of President Maduro.”
He accused Guaido and Ecarri of “politicizing” the visit, telling CNN the meeting took place on the condition that any photographs or videos of the meeting would be for “internal consumption.”
In a failure for the US efforts to gain popularity and “momentum” for the Venezuelan opposition, the Inter-American Development Bank scrapped plans to hold its annual meeting in China. The reason was that Beijing excluded the newly appointed board member from Venezuela chosen by opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
The Financial Times reported that the IDB had become a “victim” of the US-China multifront conflicts. China supports Nicolas Maduro as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- U.S. Wages War On Iran And Venezuela Oil Exports. How It Is Going On?
- Venezuelan Authorities Arrest US-linked ‘Terrorist Cell’ Amid New Washington Push Overthrow Maduro
- Venezuelan Authorities Arrest US-Proclaimed President’s Chief of Staff