Washington, May 21 : The United States plans to impose new measures ranging from sanctions to criminal charges against people involved in Venezuela's military-run emergency food program, media reported on Tuesday.
The measures are expected to be rolled out in the coming weeks and months, in an attempt to further increase pressure on Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing US officials.
According to the report, the US government is drawing up criminal charges and sanctions that accuse Venezuelan officials and private contractors of having laundered billions of dollars in state funds earmarked for the fund program and other aid operations. Caracas dismissed the accusations as part of a US smear campaign, the report added.
The situation in Venezuela has been tense since January when opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself an interim president. Washington and its allies endorsed Guaido and called on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to step down. Moreover, the United States seized billions of dollars’ worth of Venezuelan oil assets.
Maduro, in turn, has accused the United States of trying to orchestrate a coup in order to install Guaido as its puppet and take over Venezuela’s natural resources. Russia, China, Cuba, Bolivia, Turkey and a number of other countries have voiced their support for Maduro as the only legitimate president of Venezuela. SPUTNIK