Sat, Nov 03, 2018 - Page 6 News List

US slaps ‘tough’ sanctions on Venezuela

AFP, MIAMI

The White House on Thursday imposed “tough” new sanctions against Venezuela, denouncing Caracas as being part of a “troika of tyranny” that includes Cuba and Nicaragua.

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton told an audience at Miami Dade College that the sanctions would particularly target Venezuela’s gold sector, which “has been used as a bastion to finance illicit activities, to fill its coffers and to support criminal groups.”

Bolton, a longtime foreign policy hawk, said the elections of far-right Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and conservative Ivan Duque in Colombia were “positive signs for the future of the region” that demonstrate a regional commitment to free markets and “accountable governance.”

“The troika of tyranny in this hemisphere will not endure forever,” Bolton said, referring to Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. “Like all oppressive regimes and ideologies, it too will meet its demise.”

The new sanctions against Venezuela came in the form of an executive order signed by US President Donald Trump. The sanctions on Venezuela’s gold take aim at an important revenue source for the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, which relies on “corrupt or deceptive” transactions, Bolton said.

He also said that the US Department of State has added new sanctions on more than two dozen entities owned or controlled by the Cuban military and intelligence services.

Bolton’s “troika of tyranny” label is reminiscent of former US president George W. Bush calling Iran, Iraq and North Korea an “axis of evil” in 2002.

Bolton, who at the time was undersecretary of state, named other countries including Cuba as being worthy of the list.

The leaders of Venezuela and Nicaragua are “desperate” autocrats who had joined Cuban counterparts in the “same oppressive behavior of unjust imprisonment, torture and murder,” Bolton said.

Bolton said the regime of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega had “completely eroded” democratic institutions, stifled free speech and imposed a deadly policy against political opponents.

Until free, fair and early elections are held, “the Nicaraguan regime, like Venezuela and Cuba, will feel the full weight of America’s robust sanctions regime,” Bolton said.

Trump has taken a much tougher stance on Cuba than his predecessor former US president Barack Obama, who re-established diplomatic relations with Havana and reopened the US embassy there.

Washington has accused Havana of carrying out sonic “attacks” against embassy diplomats and has scaled back personnel there.

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