The Treasury Department targeted on Wednesday eight Venezuelan officials involved with a process widely seen as an attempt by President Nicolás Maduro to consolidate power in the South American country currently undergoing an economic crisis.
Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which administers foreign sanctions, froze the United States-based assets of six members of Venezuela's Constituent Assembly (Asamblea Constituyente) and two officials responsible for its establishment. U.S. persons and businesses are also banned from transactions with the targeted officials.
Maduro established the Constituent Assembly to counter the influence of the opposition-controlled Venezuelan legislature. The president has feuded with lawmakers as protests rage against Maduro’s government and the economic turmoil afflicting the country.
Treasury targeted six members of the CA with sanctions: Francisco José Ameliach Orta, Adán Coromoto Chávez Frías, Erika del Valle Farías Peña, Carmen Teresa Meléndez Rivas, Ramón Darío Vivas Velasco and Hermann Eduardo Escarra Malave. The agency also targeted Tania D'Amelio Cardiet, a rector of Venezuela's National Electoral Council, and Bladimir Humberto Lugo Armas, a commander in the Bolivarian National Guard.
Chávez Frías is the brother of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
The eight officials targeted Wednesday join almost a dozen more sanctioned by Treasury this year. The agency last month sanctioned more than 13 current and former Venezuelan government officials involved with the CA election and the alleged violent suppression of protests, corruption and currency manipulation. Treasury also targeted in February the country’s executive vice president Tareck El Aissami.