Venezuela is now a 'rogue state' alongside Iran, North Korea and Syria, and the US will do what is necessary to "ensure that [President Nicolas] Maduro runs out of ways to financially sustain himself," Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton has said.
Speaking in Lima, Peru in a conference on the crisis in Venezuela, Bolton said that new sanctions on Venezuelan state entities and individuals imposed on Monday were "sweeping," and sent "a direct signal to all those who enable [Nicolas Maduro's] dictatorship and undermine the democratically elected national assembly, or interim president Juan Guaido."
"Critically, the executive order also authorises sanctions on foreign persons who provide support, or goods, or services to any designated person including to the government of Venezuela," Bolton said. "This sweeping executive order authorises the US government to identify, target and impose sanctions on any person who continues to provide support to the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro," he added.
Bolton also attacked countries which have voiced support for Venezuela, including Cuba, Russia, China and Iran, accusing them of supporting the "atrocities of a brutal dictator."
"To both Russia and China, we say that your support to the Maduro regime is intolerable, particularly to the democratic regime that will replace Maduro. We say again to Russia...do not double down on a bad bet," Bolton said.
"In this hemisphere, it is our moral imperative to defend our neighbours against any threat, internal or external, that undermines peace, security and prosperity," Bolton added, echoing earlier remarks he made about the Monroe Doctrine being "alive and well."
'Renewed Confidence' in the Coup
Earlier, speaking to Fox and Friends on Tuesday morning, Bolton said the fresh sanctions against Venezuela announced this week go "well beyond anything we've done before."
The US and its allies feel a "renewed sense of confidence here, a renewed determination that we have to see Maduro moved out of power. I think the regime's isolation is increasing. I think the people of Venezuela need this regime to be removed and the legitimate national assembly government to take power and hold new elections," Bolton said.
'Arbitrary Economic Terrorism'
The Latin American country has been mired in a political crisis since January, when US-backed opposition politician Juan Guaido proclaimed himself 'interim president' and called on Venezuelans to depose Maduro, who took office for a second term just weeks earlier following elections last year. US allies initially showed support for Guaido, but some have since expressed frustration over the lack of progress in his takeover of power.
On Tuesday, Venezuelan Vice Minister of International Communication William Castillo slammed Washington over the latest sanctions, calling them a sign of the Trump administration's "gangsterism" and "international banditry." Earlier, the Venezuelan government issued a statement, denouncing the sanctions as "another serious aggression by the Trump administration through arbitrary economic terrorism against the Venezuelan people."