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Cilia Flores, wife of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, along with a number of high officials in the president's inner circle, is the subject of sanctions announced Tuesday by the U.S. Treasury. EFE-EPA/Miguel Gutierrez/File
Cilia Flores, wife of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, along with a number of high officials in the president's inner circle, is the subject of sanctions announced Tuesday by the U.S. Treasury. EFE-EPA/Miguel Gutierrez/File

U.S. imposes sanctions on Venezuelan first lady

"We are continuing to designate loyalists who enable Maduro to solidify his hold on the military and the government while the Venezuelan people suffer," said U…

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The U.S. Treasury Department announced a new series of sanctions Tuesday aimed at people close to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, including his wife, Cilia Flores, and a suspected straw man for National Constituent Assembly leader Diosdado Cabello.

"President Maduro relies on his inner circle to maintain his grip on power, as his regime systematically plunders what remains of Venezuela's wealth. We are continuing to designate loyalists who enable Maduro to solidify his hold on the military and the government while the Venezuelan people suffer," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Also subject to sanctions are three of the high officials closest to Maduro: Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez.

The U.S. Treasury said that these sanctions "need not be permanent" - they are simply "intended to change" the "behavior" of Venezuela.

As a consequence of these measures, the assets these Venezuelans have under U.S. jurisdiction are being frozen and they are barred from making financial transactions with any organizations or individuals in the United States.

Among those assets is a $20 million Gulfstream 200 private plane in Florida owned by Rafael Sarria, considered Cabello's principal front man.

The U.S. Treasury identified in its statement several companies linked to Sarria that are based in Venezuela, the British Virgin Islands and Spain.

With these measures the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is stepping up the pressure on Venezuela, after imposing similar measures on Maduro himself and Cabello, while repeatedly calling the Venezuelan crisis a humanitarian tragedy. 

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