Juan Guaido, head of Venezuela’s Opposition-run Congress, declared himself interim president of Venezuela, during a rally demanding President Nicolas Maduro’s resignation in Caracas on 23 January 2019. 

U.S. Threatens Sanctions After Maduro Arrests Guaido Allies

(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration threatened to sanction members of Venezuela’s security forces after the nation’s embattled president, Nicolas Maduro, began cracking down on allies of opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the announcement “puts Venezuela’s military and intelligence services, as well as those who support them, on notice that their continued backing of the illegitimate Maduro regime will be met with serious consequences.”

Guaido allies went into hiding in safe houses and foreign embassies as Maduro’s forces led by the intelligence police, known as Sebin, executed search warrants and issued arrest warrants following a failed attempt to topple the president last week. The U.S. and about 50 other nations recognize Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s powerless legislature, as the country’s rightful leader.

Treasury didn’t name any additional Venezuelan officials it would sanction, but added two shipping companies that it said were involved in the country’s oil industry to the U.S. sanctions list. Treasury’s statement said the sanctions were “a direct response to Sebin’s illegal arrest of National Assembly members.”

Mnuchin also threatened Cuba’s government, Maduro’s most important ally.

“The U.S. will take further action if Cuba continues to receive Venezuelan oil in exchange for military support,” he said. “As we have repeatedly said, the path to sanctions relief for those who have been sanctioned is to take concrete and meaningful actions to restore democratic order.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.