Trump admin imposes fresh sanctions targeting Cuba, Venezuelan oil industry

The Trump administration announced Friday a fresh wave of sanctions against Venezuela, targeting the country's state-owned oil company in an effort to pressure embattled President Nicolás Maduro.

Vice President Pence said during a speech in Houston that the administration will sanction 34 vessels owned or operated by Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), as well as two companies that transport Venezuelan crude oil to Cuba.

"Venezuela’s oil belongs to the Venezuelan people," Pence said.


The vice president portrayed the latest sanctions as part of an ongoing effort to pressure Maduro to give up power peacefully. The administration has doled out sanctions against members of Maduro's inner circle, targeted PDVSA with penalties earlier this year and attempted to send humanitarian aid to the country.

"Those who are looking on should know in the midst of all these actions, as President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE has made clear, all options are on the table," Pence said. "We will not stand idly by while the Venezuelan people suffer under dictatorship and oppression. And Nicolás Maudro would do well not to test the resolve of the United States of America."

Maduro has hung on to power as Venezuela faces a worsening economic and humanitarian crisis. The U.S. led a coalition of nations earlier this year in recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country's legitimate president.

Officials in the Trump administration have accused Cuba of propping up the Maduro regime, pointing specifically to Havana's ties to the Venezuelan oil industry.

"Cuba continues to profit from, and prop up, the illegitimate Maduro regime through oil-for-repression schemes as they attempt to keep Maduro in power," Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Apple reportedly dropped plans to let iPhone users encrypt backups | Justices decline facial recognition case | Critics fear Facebook losing misinformation fight | Truce on French tech tax On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Trump at Davos warns Europe on trade | President boasts about US economy to global elite | Experts say Trump trade victories may yield little growth MORE said in a statement Friday. "The United States remains committed to a transition to democracy in Venezuela and to holding the Cuban regime accountable for its direct involvement in Venezuela’s demise."