Statement by the Press Secretary on New Financial Sanctions on Venezuela
President Donald J. Trump has signed an Executive Order imposing strong, new financial sanctions on the dictatorship in Venezuela.
The Maduro dictatorship continues to deprive the Venezuelan people of food and medicine, imprison the democratically-elected opposition, and violently suppress freedom of speech. The regime’s decision to create an illegitimate Constituent Assembly—and most recently to have that body usurp the powers of the democratically-elected National Assembly—represents a fundamental break in Venezuela’s legitimate constitutional order.
In an effort to preserve itself, the Maduro dictatorship rewards and enriches corrupt officials in the government’s security apparatus by burdening future generations of Venezuelans with massively expensive debts. Maduro’s economic mismanagement and rampant plundering of his nation’s assets have taken Venezuela ever closer to default. His officials are now resorting to opaque financing schemes and liquidating the country’s assets at fire sale prices.
As Vice President Mike Pence has said, in Venezuela, “we’re seeing the tragedy of tyranny play out before our eyes.” No free people has ever chosen to walk the path from prosperity to poverty. No free people has ever chosen to turn what was once, and should still be, one of South America’s richest nations into its poorest and most corrupt.
We will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles. The President’s new action prohibits dealings in new debt and equity issued by the government of Venezuela and its state oil company. It also prohibits dealings in certain existing bonds owned by the Venezuelan public sector, as well as dividend payments to the government of Venezuela.
To mitigate harm to the American and Venezuelan people, the Treasury Department is issuing general licenses that allow for transactions that would otherwise be prohibited by the Executive Order. These include provisions allowing for a 30-day wind-down period; financing for most commercial trade, including the export and import of petroleum; transactions only involving Citgo; dealings in select existing Venezuelan debts; and the financing for humanitarian goods to Venezuela.
These measures are carefully calibrated to deny the Maduro dictatorship a critical source of financing to maintain its illegitimate rule, protect the United States financial system from complicity in Venezuela’s corruption and in the impoverishment of the Venezuelan people, and allow for humanitarian assistance.
The United States is not alone in condemning the Maduro regime. Through the Lima Declaration of August 8, our friends and partners in the region refused to recognize the illegitimate Constituent Assembly or the laws it adopts. The new United States financial sanctions support this regional posture of economically isolating the Maduro dictatorship.
The United States reiterates our call that Venezuela restore democracy, hold free and fair elections, release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally, and end the repression of the Venezuelan people. We continue to stand with the people of Venezuela during these trying times.
IMPOSING ADDITIONAL SANCTIONS WITH RESPECT TO THE SITUATION IN VENEZUELA
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,
I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, in order to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13692 of March 8, 2015, and particularly in light of recent actions and policies of the Government of Venezuela, including serious abuses of human rights and fundamental freedoms; responsibility for the deepening humanitarian crisis in Venezuela; establishment of an illegitimate Constituent Assembly, which has usurped the power of the democratically elected National Assembly and other branches of the Government of Venezuela; rampant public corruption; and ongoing repression and persecution of, and violence toward, the political opposition, hereby order as follows:
Section 1. (a) All transactions related to, provision of financing for, and other dealings in the following by a United States person or within the United States are prohibited:
(i) new debt with a maturity of greater than 90 days of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA);
(ii) new debt with a maturity of greater than 30 days, or new equity, of the Government of Venezuela, other than debt of PdVSA covered by subsection (a)(i) of this section;
(iii) bonds issued by the Government of Venezuela prior to the effective date of this order;
(iv) dividend payments or other distributions of profits to the Government of Venezuela from any entity owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the Government of Venezuela.
(b) The purchase, directly or indirectly, by a United States person or within the United States, of securities from the Government of Venezuela, other than securities qualifying as new debt with a maturity of less than or equal to 90 or 30 days as covered by subsections (a)(i) or (a)(ii) of this section, respectively, is prohibited.
(c) The prohibitions in subsections (a) and (b) of this section apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted before the effective date of this order.
Sec. 2. (a) Any transaction that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
Sec. 3. For the purposes of this order:
(a) the term “person” means an individual or entity;
(b) the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization;
(c) the term “United States person” means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States; and
(d) the term “Government of Venezuela” means the Government of Venezuela, any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including the Central Bank of Venezuela and PdVSA, and any person owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, the Government of Venezuela.
Sec. 4. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including promulgating rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to implement this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may, consistent with applicable law, redelegate any of these functions to other officers and executive departments and agencies of the United States Government. All agencies of the United States Government shall take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order.
Sec. 5. For those persons whose property or interests in property are affected by this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13692, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to this order.
Sec. 6. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Sec. 7. This order is effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on August 25, 2017.