Venezuela bought more weapons than any other country in Latin America in 2015, according to the Stockholm Peace Research Institute, spending United States $162 million on war-related resources such as armored vehicles, artillery, warplanes and ships.
Authorities have shut down two radio stations that aired critical coverage of President Nicolas Maduro's government by refusing to renew their licenses, a broadcast executive announced, as the country staged military exercises in defiance of Washington and new USA sanctions.
A senior Trump administration official said additional sanctions would be imposed if Maduro doesn't reverse course and meet opposition demands that he roll back plans to rewrite the constitution, free dozens of political prisoners, and hold fair and transparent elections.
Delcy Rodríguez, President of the illegitimate National Constituent Assembly, said this Sunday, August 27, that Venezuela can't pay for food and medicine entering the country on boats due to sanctions imposed by the United States.
Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, however, described the sanctions as threats, and called on the United Nations to denounce them.
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"The present problem in Venezuela should be resolved by the Venezuelan government and people themselves", she told a daily news briefing. Sanctions have also targeted up to 30 members of the Venezuelan government, and in the latest efforts, the sanctions are targeting issues with the Latin American nation's access to new debts and equity.
Live broadcasts were aired of camouflaged sharp-shooters at target practice while military commanders gave fiery speeches at "anti-imperialist" rallies. In remarks earlier this month, President Donald Trump would not rule out a "military option" for Venezuela. But even with this being the case, the U.S.is still dealing with oil exports from the country.
The sanctions are bound to worsen a crisis that has already seen Venezuela's oil-dependent economy shrink by about 35 percent since 2014 - more than the US economy did during the Great Depression. They marched for a couple of blocks in Havana's Vedado neighborhood and they asked Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to "go hard" against Trump.
His Vice President Mike Pence later played down the threat, insisting that Washington was prioritising a diplomatic solution and economic sanctions. They also protested against the constituent assembly because they believe that this is an attempt to change the constitution. Trump has already signed an order that prohibits Americans to deal new debt from the Venezuelan government.
The measures ban trade in new bonds issued by the Venezuelan government or its cash-cow oil company, PDVSA.