05:39 GMT +322 November 2019
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    Madrid Denies That US Has Threatened Sanctions Over Spain’s Policy on Venezuela

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    Like many other European countries, Madrid sided with the US and recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s self-proclaimed ‘interim president’. However, Spain’s central bank has continued to act as an intermediary enabling the Venezuelan government to make financial transactions, and maintains ties with Cuba, Caracas’s regional ally.

    The United States is not considering sanctions against Spain over Madrid's Venezuela policy, a government source has told Sputnik Mundo.

    "Both US authorities in Washington and the US Embasy in Madrid deny that [the US] has ever considered these measures," the source said.

    The foreign ministry later released a statement denying that the State Department had "raised any type of measure against Spain in relation to Venezuela."

    Earlier, several sources said to be familiar with the situation told Bloomberg that the US Treasury was considering sanctions against the Spanish Central Bank and other entities dealing with funds which belong to the Venezuelan government.

    According to the outlet, the new sanctions aren’t expected to be announced before the Spanish general elections on November 10. Bloomberg’s sources did not provide any additional details on the measures, except to say that Spanish officials had been warned about the possible restrictions.

    Bloomberg speculated that the sanctions threats may be meant as a “message” to force Spain to shift its policy amid Banco de Espana’s decision to continue doing business with Caracas, and to allow the Venezuelan government to transfer and receive funds despite the series of tough US sanctions measures against the Latin American country’s energy and banking sectors.

    Spain Says 'No' to Asset Freeze Demand

    Elliott Abrams, the US special representative for Venezuela, was reported to have recently traveled to Madrid to ask that the Spanish government follow US and UK policy and freeze Venezuelan assets in Spanish banks. Spanish officials reportedly replied that they would not move to freeze assets unless evidence of money laundering was found.

    A Spanish foreign ministry spokesperson told the business outlet that Madrid would not consider any possible US sanctions pressure justified.

    Shortly after recognising US-backed Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido as the country’s ‘interim president’ in January, the Spanish government appeared to criticise US policy, with Foreign Minister Josep Borrell later telling reporters that President Nicolas Maduro was looking “stronger” by resisting US pressure, and that this was “a reality the US surely wasn’t counting on.”

    Venezuela's opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido greets supporters during a rally in Barinas, Venezuela, Saturday, June 1, 2019. Guaido is taking his campaign to oust President Nicolas Maduro to the birthplace of Hugo Chavez, the socialist leaders's mentor
    © AP Photo / Ariana Cubillos
    Venezuela's opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido greets supporters during a rally in Barinas, Venezuela, Saturday, June 1, 2019. Guaido is taking his campaign to oust President Nicolas Maduro to the birthplace of Hugo Chavez, the socialist leaders's mentor

    In another challenge to US Venezuela policy, Spain has voiced its categorical rejection of any possible military intervention against Caracas, and has accused the Trump administration of acting “like a cowboy” with its statements that “all options” were on the table to oust President Nicolas Maduro, including military intervention.

    Spain has also criticised US sanctions policy toward Cuba, a Venezuelan ally, calling on the European Union to challenge the extension of US sanctions in the World Trade Organisation in April.

    Venezuela has been facing a severe political crisis since late January, when Guaido proclaimed himself ‘interim president’, receiving the immediate backing of the US and its Latin American and European allies. President Maduro has accused Guaido of being a US “puppet” and of working with Washington to stage a coup d’etat in order to try to pilfer the country’s natural resources.

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