The United States government has renewed it’s declaration of a national emergency over Venezuela for another year, which former President Barack Obama initially decreed in March 2015.
In response, the Venezuelan government said the renewal of this measure is “a historic error” in the context of the economic aggressions and threats of military intervention to which the U.S. has subjected the country.
In a statement sent to Congress, U.S. President Donald Trump asserted that Venezuela continues to represent “a threat to U.S. policy.”
The decree against Venezuela includes sanctions against government officials within the framework of an economic blockade against the country that has cost around US$35 billion, according to complaints to the U.N. from the Venezuelan government.
Elliot Abrams, U.S. special envoy to Venezuela, affirmed Tuesday that the White House does not rule out imposing secondary sanctions against the Venezuelan government. Abrams said the U.S. government has many plans on the table to be lodged against the government of the South American country, including possible military action.
“It’s a possibility, but it’s not yet time,” Abrams said during a press conference. “Our policy is diplomatic pressure. Although all options are on the table, we have not chosen the military option.”
The special envoy to the U.S. said they are considering imposing sanctions on actors from third-party countries in response to situation in Venezuelan. For the moment, Abrams said that “there will be more revocations and cancellations of visas” for officials linked to the Venezuelan government.
Abrams’ words come a day after the White House Security Adviser John Bolton indicated that President Trump’s administration will take measures against Cuba for supporting President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro.
The U.S. and its right-wing allies in Latin America have come out in support of opposition lawmaker, Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president of Venezuela 13 days after Maduro’s inauguration on Jan. 23. The opposition refused to particpate in last years elections last May, saying the election was rigged.
Amidst the controversy, Maduro called for the restoration of talks between his government and the opposition in order to maintain peace and avoid a U.S.-backed coup. He also appealed to Pope Francis who said that both sides would first need to agree to a mediation.
The Pope notably brokered a negotiation between the U.S. and Cuba in 2014 to end to more than five decades of hostilities.