Trump official threatens to tighten Venezuelan sanctions: report

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The Trump administration is preparing tougher sanctions against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, according to a report by Spanish news agency EFE.

Mauricio Claver-Carone, the National Security Council head of Western Hemisphere affairs, said Tuesday that the United States and its regional allies have given Maduro “a set amount of time” to leave power or face further consequences.

“And if he doesn’t take [his leave], the measures against him will strengthen much, much more,” Claver-Carone told EFE.{mosads}

Claver-Carone is a top official for the administration’s regional policy and its focus on containing the Venezuelan, Cuban and Nicaraguan governments.

Claver-Carone said the timeline set for Maduro’s departure from power is “much shorter than until the end of the year.”

He added that the administration is in talks with countries in the Lima Group, a regional coalition whose members mostly recognize Juan Guaidó, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

“The timeline is immediate,” said Claver-Carone. “And we’ve already communicated it indirectly [to Maduro], through people he trusts. It’s important that the countries of the Lima Group do the same.

Claver-Carone said Maduro could still negotiate an exit from power, and warned of legal consequences if the embattled Venezuelan president resists calls to leave.

The NSC official referenced a report on human rights violations published earlier this month by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who found evidence of gross violations of civil rights, torture and political persecution in the South American country.

“Bachelet’s report is a prima facie case for prosecution, particularly for those countries party to the International Criminal Court [ICC]. The United States is not party to that, but we are willing to give certain guarantees,” said Claver-Carone.

Both Venezuela and the Latin American members of the Lima Group are parties to the ICC.

The United States, though, has a history of clashing with the ICC, a body designed to prosecute individuals for violations of international humanitarian law. Former President Bill Clinton signed the court’s statute in 2000, but former President George W. Bush withdrew the signature in 2002, before the treaty had been sent to the Senate for ratification.

Still, Claver-Carone said Maduro could face trial before the multilateral body.

“So it’s time to accept certain guarantees to leave power, or to confront U.S. and international justice,” he said.

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