US imposes sanctions on Venezuela’s central bank

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The United States on Wednesday announced sanctions against Venezuela’s central bank in its latest effort to strangle President Nicolas Maduro’s cash flow.

In a hard-hitting speech in Miami largely devoted to Cuba, National Security Advisor John Bolton also unveiled measures against a third leftist government in Latin America, Nicaragua, with sanctions against President Daniel Ortega’s son.

The US said it would forbid all Americans’ dealings and block any US assets of the Central Bank of Venezuela as well as its director, Iliana Josefa Ruzza Teran, saying they were key conduits for funding Maduro’s government.

“Treasury is designating the Central Bank of Venezuela to prevent it from being used as a tool of the illegitimate Maduro regime, which continues to plunder Venezuelan assets and exploit government institutions to enrich corrupt insiders,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement that accompanied Bolton’s speech.

The Treasury Department said it had taken precautions to ensure that ordinary Venezuelans can use debit and credit cards, even with the blacklisting of the central bank.

Bolton also announced action against Laureano Ortega Murillo, the son of Nicaragua’s leftist leader and Rosario Murillo, who is both vice president and first lady.

The Treasury Department accused the younger Ortega of “corrupt business deals” with foreign investors and of using the Nicaragua Grand Canal project – a long-running bid to build a rival to the Panama Canal – as a way to launder money.

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