Venezuela’s vice president has said the latest US sanctions freezing the assets of Nicolas Maduro’s government are an attack on private property and a threat to world order.
Foreign companies which continue to do business with Nicolas Maduro’s government can face retaliation in the US under the asset freeze, which was announced on Monday night.
Venezuelan vice president Delcy Rodriguez said: “The US has to understand once and for all that they aren’t the owners of the world.”
She said that “every country that has investments in the US should be very worried because this sets a dangerous precedent against private property”.
Ms Rodriguez also said the US measures are likely to bring additional hardship to the Venezuelan people, who are already suffering from the effects of hyperinflation and a deep recession.
Mr Bolton’s comments came after the White House placed Venezuela on a short list of American adversaries, including Cuba, North Korea, Syria and Iran which have also been targeted by such aggressive financial measures.
Mr Bolton said at a one-day conference in Peru of more than 50 nations aligned against Mr Maduro: “Now, Venezuela is part of this very exclusive club of rogue states.”
The ban blocking companies and individuals from doing business with Mr Maduro’s government and its top supporters took effect immediately. It is the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere since an asset freeze against General Manuel Noriega’s government in Panama and a trade embargo on the Sandinista leadership in Nicaragua in the 1980s.
Mr Bolton said: “We are sending a signal to third parties that want to do business with the Maduro regime: Proceed with extreme caution.
“There is no need to risk your business interests with the United States for the purposes of profiting from a corrupt and dying regime.”
Critically, it also exposes foreign entities doing business with the Maduro government to US retaliation.
The executive order signed by US president Donald Trump justified the move by citing Mr Maduro’s “continued usurpation of power” and human rights abuses by security forces loyal to him.
Russia, which strongly backs Mr Maduro, denounced the US action.
Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Russian upper house’s international affairs committee, said the move amounts to “international banditry”.
He added in remarks carried by the state RIA Novosti news agency that it represents an “open meddling into Venezuela’s internal affairs”.
The latest US measures are likely to exacerbate suffering in an already moribund economy marked by six-digit hyperinflation and a deep, multi-year contraction that surpasses that of the Great Depression in the US.
Previous sanctions targeting the South American nation’s oil industry, the source of almost all of its export earnings, have already accelerated a crash in oil production that started with Mr Maduro’s election in 2013 following the death of his mentor Hugo Chavez.