The future is getting grimmer for Nicolas Maduro. Many of the finance ministers gathered in Argentina for the G20 summit attended a special meeting Monday to discuss how to stop Venezuela’s dictatorship from circumventing international sanctions.
President Donald Trump’s government had already announced earlier it would bar any transactions with the county’s cryptocurrency, the Petro.
In Buenos Aires, government representatives from the US, Brazil, Japan, the European Union, and the ‘Lima Group’, considered additional sanctions against the Maduro regime and agreed to implement humanitarian aid for Venezuela’s refugees in Colombia. The goal was to join efforts towards “achieving a democratic solution” to Venezuela’s crisis.
Sources told Argentinean portal Infobae that the countries represented at the meeting decided to create a financial intelligence network that would block transactions of corrupt funds from Nicolas Maduro’s regime.
According to Reuters and to comments from Brazil’s Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles, the countries will appeal to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to establish a fund to aid tens of thousands of Venezuela’s refugees.
Meirelles highlighted that the fund will outside of Venezuela, and is not to be used by the Venezuelan regime.
The meeting was unexpected, and occurred just hours after the exiled former Caracas mayor, Antonio Ledezma, wrote an open letter from Madrid to several presidents requesting to increase economic pressure against Maduro’s dictatorship.
Ledezma, a victim of political persecution, requested the Lima Group governments to impound money and assets of the Nicolas Maduro’s so-called “boli-revolutionaries” that originated from nefarious activities.
The US takes the lead
Earlier Monday, President Trump signed an executive order barring “any transaction” using “any digital currency” issued by Venezuela’s government.
In the order, Trump says the decision was made “in light of recent actions taken by the Maduro regime to attempt to circumvent U.S. sanctions by issuing a digital currency.”
Venezuela’s parliament, where the opposition holds the majority, had already denounced the decree that created the cryptocurrency as unlawful, and declared the Petro an illegal currency.
With the implementation of the cryptocurrency, Maduro’s regime is violating the country’s Constitution, since it is supported by state funds, which act as public debt issuance that normally require prior approval by the National Assembly. The Petro also violates the country’s Organic Hydrocarbons Law, which forbids to give oil reserves as a guarantee.
Rafael Guzmán, president of the National Assembly’s Finance Committee, noted that it is a fraudulent, illegal and void mechanism that could help the regime launder money. “We could be talking about laundering money because no one knows where those resources would be coming from, nor where they will be going.”
The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) also sanctioned four new Venezuelan current and former officials, who are now banned from visiting and had their U.S. assets frozen.
The newly sanctioned individuals include:
- Américo Alex Mata García, who allegedly asked for and received payments from Odebrecht for Maduro’s campaign in 2013.
- Willian Antonio Contreras, responsible for implementing government-mandated price controls.
- Nelson Reinaldo Lepaje Salazar, involved in administrative procedures regarding the National Treasury.
- And Carlos Alberto Rotondaro, one of the principal actors responsible for medicine shortage in the country.
More international actions
The recent moves that tighten the grip on Nicolas Maduro’s regime come just months before fraudulent elections in Venezuela. The internationally-backed measures coincide with politicians and analysts who call for a political and economic isolation of the Venezuelan dictatorship.
Luis Gonzáles Posada, former president of Peru’s Congress and former foreign affairs secretary, told the PanAm Post that the international isolation against Nicolas Maduro should be the main action coming from the countries of the world.
“I believe that some countries in Latin America can create a roster of officials from chavismo that shouldn’t be allowed to enter, they must be diplomatically isolated,” he said.
“Something that could harm the Venezuelan dictatorship is reducing oil purchases, this type of economic sanction can end the regime,” he added.
Lawyer Carlos Ramírez López, who holds a diploma in litigation and international law, said he agrees a military intervention is the most immediate solution to end the regime.
“Countries like Colombia, Brazil and the U.S. should unite and create a military alliance to take action in Venezuela because they’re also being affected by drug trafficking, money laundering, and terrorism coming from that country,” he told the PanAm Post.