U.S. Is Said to Plan New Venezuela Sanctions Announcement Friday

(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration is planning to unveil another round of sanctions on Friday designed to punish the government of Venezuela, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The measures would be the latest in a U.S. campaign to pressure Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The people who described the move did so on condition of anonymity and declined to provide details on the sanctions that would be imposed.

One move that has been under consideration by the U.S. would block trades of Venezuelan-held dollar-denominated notes sold by the government and Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state-run oil company, according to a third person familiar with the discussions, who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

President Donald Trump’s administration has been escalating sanctions on Venezuelan officials and others connected to Maduro as the socialist government moves to increase its authority amid a crippling recession and months of violent protests. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has labeled Maduro a dictator for arresting opposition leaders and seeking to revise the constitution.

The measures to be announced on Friday would come days after Vice President Mike Pence met with Venezuelan exiles in Florida.

“The United States of America will continue to bring the full measure of American economic and diplomatic power to bear until democracy is restored in Venezuela,” Pence said in remarks on Aug. 23 at a Catholic church in Doral, Florida. He noted the sanctions already imposed recently and said “there’s more to come.”

‘Financial Blockade’

Maduro said earlier this week that Venezuela is prepared for any U.S. sanctions and that the Trump administration is trying to create a “financial blockade” against the South American nation. He called relations with the U.S. the worst in history.

The sanctions against Maduro and his cabinet members in recent weeks have triggered concerns among investors about the potential for steeper economic penalties against the nation. Venezuela and PDVSA are due to pay $3.53 billion in bond payments in October and November.

The U.S. thus far has refrained from imposing broader economic sanctions on Venezuela that would affect the country’s oil exports to the U.S.

Home to the world’s largest crude reserves, Venezuela produces a fifth as much crude as Saudi Arabia or the U.S. as a wave of nationalizations and payment delays have cut investment and maintenance at oil fields. Output had already fallen to a 14-year low in July.