Earlier this month, the United States, which backs Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaido, imposed sanctions on two Venezuelans for providing financial support to the legitimately elected president, Nicolas Maduro, and the Venezuelan government.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Tuesday that Washington will be sanctioning Venezuela’s former Minister of Electric Power Luis Alfredo Motta Dominguez, as well as former Deputy Minister of Finance for the Ministry of Electric Power Eustiquio Jose Lugo Gomez.
According to a statement released by the US Department of Treasury, “persistent countrywide blackouts are the latest and worst in a long history of electricity outages, stemming from years of massive corruption, neglect, and mismanagement of Venezuela’s electricity infrastructure by the illegitimate Maduro regime”.
“The people of Venezuela entrusted their public officials to provide fundamental civic services, like water and electricity. The illegitimate Maduro regime exploits the public trust by plundering Venezuelan assets, enriching themselves, and watching idly as basic public systems needlessly and catastrophically fail”, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claimed.
Venezuela has faced major power outages, with Caracas saying that the country’s power system has suffered several attacks. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in particular, mentioned “electromagnetic attacks” on power transmission lines. Back in 2019, the authorities blamed the power supply disruptions on the United States, which denied the accusations.
The Latin American country has been mired in an ongoing political crisis since January 2019 when Juan Guaido was elected the head of the opposition-led National Assembly, which all other government branches have refused to recognise since 2016.
In mid-January 2019, two days after the Venezuelan Supreme Court annulled his election, Guaido proclaimed himself interim president, challenging legitimate President Maduro, who was sworn in for a second term on 10 January.
Guaido’s move was immediately recognised by Washington, with other countries around the world following suit, while Maduro slammed the opposition leader as a US “puppet”, and described the entire situation as a coup attempt staged by the United States.