The Trump administration on Monday escalated its efforts to force Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from power, blocking all U.S. revenue to Venezuela’s
national oil company and calling on members of its armed forces to switch their allegiance to the man the United States now recognizes as Venezuela’s head of state.
Any attempt to harm remaining U.S. diplomats in Venezuela, or violence against the newly recognized president, Juan Guaidó , “will be met with a significant response,” White House national security
adviser John Bolton said.President Trump “has made it very clear all options are on the table,” said Bolton, who announced the sanctions at a white House press briefing alongside
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin
For the moment, the administration is depending on economic and diplomatic measures to squeeze Maduro, who has refused to leave and charged the United States with trying to overthrow his government. Pentagon officials have indicated they have no orders to prepare for military action toward Venezuela. But by starving Maduro of a critical source of cash, the Trump administration has dramatically increased the pressure on his government.Bolton said that Venezuelan “official and military personnel” were already “heeding this call” to change sides, noting that the military attache at the country’s embassy in Washington has publicly recognized Guaidó’s government, as has the Venezuelan Consulate in Miami. He also said that several unnamed generals who last week publicly pledged loyalty to Maduro were already in contact with the opposition.The measures announced Monday place sanctions on PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company, freezing $7 billion in U.S.- based assets and blocking more than $11 billion in revenue that would otherwise flow from oil sales over the next year, Bolton said.At least 20 other countries, most of them in the Western Hemisphere, have joined the United States, which recognized Guaidó, 35, as the legitimate president of Venezuela on Wednesday. At a U.N. Security Council meeting Saturday, several leading
European governments threatened to recognize Guaidó, the elected president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, unless a plan for new elections was announced by the end of this week.