WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration is preparing sanctions against another group of Venezuelan officials linked to President Nicolas Maduro in response to his creation of a new legislative superbody in defiance of world condemnation, U.S. officials said on Monday.
The new measures, to freeze the individuals’ U.S. assets, ban them from travel to the United States and prohibit Americans from doing business with them, could be rolled out as early as this week, one of the administration officials told Reuters.
No final decisions have yet been made on the list of new targets, which is likely to include a significant number of names, or on the exact timing of the announcement, the two officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Washington slapped sanctions on Maduro himself last week following similar action against 13 Venezuelan figures on July 26.
The next round is still expected to stop short of penalties against Venezuela’s vital oil sector, considered the toughest of possible sanctions, though such measures, U.S. sources have said, remain under consideration.
“We want to leave room to do more if Maduro’s actions continue, not do everything and everyone who remains all with one stroke,” said one of the officials involved in the White House deliberations.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Bloomberg News first reported the new sanctions plan.
Preparations for further sanctions followed Friday’s inauguration of the new assembly, which is expected to rewrite the country’s constitution and give vast new powers to Maduro and his ruling Socialist Party.
The Trump administration has echoed the Venezuelan opposition’s view that the assembly is a bid by Maduro to cement dictatorship after months of deadly protests in the oil-rich, but economically ailing, South American country.
U.S. officials announcing measures against Maduro last week for what the called abuse of power reiterated a threat of a strong economic response and warned that anyone serving in the new assembly could face U.S. sanctions.
The United States, the European Union and most of Venezuela’s neighbors condemned the election of the assembly as flawed.
Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Additional reporting by John Walcott; Editing by Clarence Fernandez