World

U.S. Could Restrict Visa, MasterCard Transactions in Venezuela to Maduro Supporters

While Venezuela remains in a tussle between President Nicolás Maduro against his citizens and U.S.-recognized interim president Juan Guaidó, the United States could impose more sanctions that would restrict Visa and Mastercard transactions in the country.

This would affect spending and financial transactions by the Maduro regime and those in his closest circles, according to a Reuters report. In other words, the financial constriction could have a trickle-down effect starting at the top.

“The purpose of these sanctions is to continue to deprive the illegitimate Maduro regime of access to funds and deny their ability to continue stealing from the Venezuelan people,” a White House official said in the report.

Though nothing has been finalized regarding sanctions, the gist of it would affect elite loyalists to Maduro, military officials aligned with the president, supporters who haven’t defected and Cuban militia operating in Venezuela on behalf of Maduro.

The sanctions mentioned from the White House official would block any state-owned banks and other Venezuelan financial institutions from having access to the Visa and Mastercard financial systems—including credit card providers. The sanctions would also go as far as blocking access to SWIFT, a financial messaging service based in Belgium.

This wouldn’t be the first sanction placed by President Donald Trump against Venezuela since the U.S. recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president at the end of January.

The sanctions that could be imposed against Venezuela slightly mirror those the White House had already imposed against Iran, North Korea, Syria and parts of the Russian regime.

Trump’s administration has already hit PDVSA, a Venezuelan-owned oil company, with financial sanctions since the Maduro-Guaidó rift began. Those include limiting the exports to the United States in an effort to curb Maduro’s power.

Last month Trump implored the Maduro regime to “end this nightmare of poverty, hunger and death.”

Venezuela endured a power blackout earlier this week before it was restored Thursday afternoon. The blackout affected electricity, water, telephone and internet to the millions of residents who didn’t defect to neighboring countries for one reason or another.

Some areas in the Socialist-run country are still without power, according to The Guardian.

The Central University of Venezuela’s faculty of engineering said the blackout was caused by a brush fire, and that the “experts” said power might not be restored in some areas for at least two months.

The United States has withdrawn its diplomats from the country already, and the U.S. State Department has advised U.S. citizens who might be in Venezuela that commercial flights are still available both in and out of the South American country.

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