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U.S. imposes first economic sanctions against Venezuela

August 25, 2017

Saying the U.S. won’t help underwrite “tyranny,” the Trump administration on Friday restricted Venezuela’s ability to borrow money from American creditors, a prohibition intended to starve President Nicolás Maduro’s troubled government of much-needed cash.

The Treasury Department, following through on President Donald Trump’s threat of economic sanctions, banned debt trades for bonds issued by the Venezuelan government and its state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela SA, the economy’s financial driver. But it continued to avoid the penalty that would inflict the most damage to the South American country: an oil embargo...

With the Venezuela sanctions, however, the U.S. took the unusual step of prohibiting trades of existing bonds held exclusively by Venezuelans. Had the ban extended to PDVSA bonds, it could have also hurt U.S. investors. A chief Trump administration worry was to shield the U.S. from any potential impact.

“If this doesn’t have the ultimate impact that the administration may be wanting, I think they’re prepared to do more,” said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas and Americas Society in Washington. “They’re trying to strike a balance between showing concern and taking steps that will hurt the leaders of the regime — and not hurt the Venezuelan people....”

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