The sanctions are a reaction to a controversial vote that critics say will give Maduro power to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution.
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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration slapped financial sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Monday after a weekend election that gave the South American country’s ruling party virtually unlimited powers.
The sanctions freeze any assets Maduro may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with him. They were outlined in a brief notice by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control ahead of a White House announcement from President Trump’s national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
McMaster described the election, which creates a constituent assembly that will rewrite Venezuela’s constitution, as an “outrageous seizure of absolute power” that “represents a very serious blow to democracy in our hemisphere.”
“Maduro is not just a bad leader, he is now a dictator,” McMaster said.
The monetary impact of the sanctions wasn’t immediately clear as Maduro’s holdings in U.S. jurisdictions, if he has any, weren’t publicized.
Imposing sanctions on a head of state is rare and can be symbolically powerful, leading other countries to similarly shun such a leader. For example, the U.S. has had sanctions against Syria’s President Bashar Assad since 2011. Other heads of state currently subject to U.S. sanctions include Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
Monday’s move follows through on a U.S. threat of action last week against Maduro and his socialist government if they went ahead with Sunday’s election. Venezuela’s opposition calls it a power grab and had urged a boycott of the vote. Venezuela’s chief prosecutor’s office reported 10 deaths in clashes Sunday between protesters and police.
“By sanctioning Maduro, the United States makes clear our opposition to the policies of his…