Venezuela begins military drill amid stepped up USA hostility

Geneva Matthews
August 29, 2017

Trump had previously threatened military action against Venezuela, comments that feed Maduro's claim that the USA could be behind an invasion of the oil-rich country.

This handout picture shows Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro raising his clenched fist during a rally against US President Donald Trump, in Caracas, on August 14, 2017.

The sanctions also come just weeks after the U.S. President Donald Trump issued a military threat against Venezuela.

The Venezuelan government has categorically rejected a public statement issued by the opposition Democratic Unity Table coalition, which supports USA -imposed economic sanctions against the country.

He singled out the president of Venezuela's congress, Julio Borges, as being the "mastermind" of the financial and economic "blockade" and called on the government-stacked supreme court and a new, all-powerful constitutional assembly to initiate proceedings against opponents who have lobbied in favor of the sanctions.

"To greater democracy in Venezuela, the empire responds with more aggression", Padrino Lopez said, promising that the armed forces will support the government in standing up to the sanctions announced the previous day by Washington.

China has rejected new US sanctions against Venezuela, calling for an end to foreign intervention in the internal affairs of the South American country and adding that unilateral sanctions have historically only complicated situations.

Maduro says the United States is seeking to stifle oil exports through sanctions and a "naval blockade" on the Latin American country.

While Trump's administration is aiming to pressure Maduro, the new sanctions do not prohibit investors from buying the bonds that Goldman Sachs Asset Management purchased earlier this year.

They also restrict PDVSA's USA subsidiary, Citgo, from sending dividends back to Venezuela - a move that Maduro said would lead to the "virtual closure" of a company responsible for thousands of American jobs.

Especially since military threats were not even an option and had not been run by the U.S. Defense Department.

However, anti-government protests have dwindled in size since the constituent assembly was established through a controversial electoral process in July.

Trump warned on August 11 the United States was mulling a range of options to solve Venezuela's political crisis, "including a possible military option if necessary". "These measures are carefully calibrated to deny the Maduro dictatorship a critical source of financing to maintain its illegitimate rule, protect the United States financial system from complicity in Venezuela's corruption and in the impoverishment of the Venezuelan people, and allow for humanitarian assistance", the White House statement reads.

The government and state oil company have about $4 billion in debt payments coming due before the end of the year but only $9.7 billion in worldwide reserves on hand, the vast majority consisting of gold ingots that are hard to trade immediately for cash. Venezuela had money at Bank New York Mellon, which officials confirmed had been intended for military spending.

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