US blacklists Venezuelan state banks
WASHINGTON, CARACAS- Reuters
The United States imposed sanctions on March 22 on Venezuela's development bank, Bandes, a day after the Trump administration warned there would be consequences for the arrest by Venezuelan authorities of opposition leader Juan Guaido's top aide.
The U.S. Treasury said it was slapping the sanctions on Banco de Desarrollo Economico y Social de Venezuela, including its subsidiaries in Uruguay and Bolivia. It also imposed sanctions on state-owned Venezuelan commercial banks, including Banco de Venezuela and Banco Bicentenario.
In a statement, Venezuela's foreign ministry said it "energetically rejects the unilateral, coercive, arbitrary and illegal measures" taken by the Trump administration. It said the sanctions would affect millions of Venezuelan people and companies who use the banks.
Congress head Guaido, who invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency in January, has accused Bandes of being used by President Nicolas Maduro's government to funnel money outside Venezuela.
The White House said in a statement it was committed to preventing Maduro's government from stealing Venezuela's resources and from arresting those pushing for political change.
Guaido's chief of staff, Roberto Marrero, was detained in a pre-dawn raid on March 21.
Venezuelan authorities said on March 21 that an arms cache had been seized from Marrero's house and accused him of planning attacks against political figures. Guaido said guns had been planted by intelligence agents.