The United States is planning additional sanctions for Venezuela following the oil-rich nation’s election of a new assembly tasked with rewriting the constitution.
The administration of President Donald trump is preparing to freeze the assets of up to 20 people with connections to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Bloomberg News reported on Monday.
The Treasury Department has already slapped sanctions on the Venezuelan leader by freezing his assets in the United States, banning traveling to the country, and prohibiting Americans from doing business with him. The Treasury also sanctioned 13 former and current Venezuelan government officials.
Maduro insists that a new constitution is needed “to restore peace,” stop the opposition from carrying out a “coup d’etat,” and address social and economic problems.
The Venezuelan president has repeatedly condemned what he calls “imperialist meddling” by the United States.
The new sanctions, targeting the individuals’ assets in the US, banning them from travel to the United States and prohibiting American business transactions may be issued this week, one administration official told the Reuters news agency.
A significant number of Venezuelan officials could be targeted in new sanction, according to two Venezuelan officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The United States is also reportedly considering financial sanctions against Venezuela to restrict the OPEC nation’s oil exports but those penalties are not expected soon.
“We want to leave room to do more if Maduro’s actions continue, not do everything and everyone who remains all with one stroke,” said one of the officials involved in the White House deliberations.
Meanwhile, Venezuela’s opposition-controlled parliament announced that it will not recognize any decrees issued by the newly formed constitutional assembly.
The Venezuelan parliament unanimously voted on Monday in favor of ignoring the assembly’s decision to substitute the country’s chief prosecutor with a pro-government figure.
The powerful 545-seat Constituent Assembly, with the principal task of rewriting the 1999 constitution, started its work on Friday, following an election which was held amid a wave of deadly clashes and violence, with protesters attacking polling stations and barricading streets.
At least 125 people have died over the past four months in Venezuela during riots and violent demonstrations against the government.