On Monday, January 9, the United States Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed a new unilateral coercive measure against Venezuela by extending License number 31, now named 31B. This license allows the members of the Venezuelan National Assembly’s (AN) 2015-2020 term to continue negotiations with US citizens and entities, undermining the legitimate authorities of Venezuela. The Venezuelan deputy minister of Anti-Blockade Policies, William Castillo, stated that the number of unilateral coercive measures against Venezuela has risen to 928 with the extension of License 31.
“OFAC’s license to the ‘AN 2016’ becomes the 928th sanction against Venezuela,” Castillo wrote in a Twitter post. “The Venezuelan Anti-Blockade Observatory has incorporated License No. 31B, issued by OFAC – USA, as unilateral coercive measure 928 against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”
Licencia OFAC a la “AN 2016” se convierte en la sanción 928 contra 🇻🇪. El Observatorio Venezolano Antibloqueo ha incorporado la Licencia Nro 31B, emitida por OFAC- EE,.UU., como la medida coercitiva unilateral 928 contra la República Bolivariana de Venezuela. En breve más info. pic.twitter.com/MbcY5oDo8W
— William Castillo Bollé (@planwac) January 11, 2023
Using this new measure, the US government, with the complicity of the Venezuelan extreme right opposition, intends to maintain its control over blocked and frozen Venezuelan assets and resources abroad.
Castillo stated in a television interview that the over 900 sanctions imposed on Venezuela are still in effect, causing a shortage of resources for the State and an economic crisis in the country.
“There is a crisis due to the blocking of payments—we have not been able to buy turbines,” Minister Castillo explained. “The sanctions make it difficult for us to acquire food. Venezuela’s $24 billion and $30 billion liquidities remain blocked in the international financial system. CITGO was seized. All this was handled by the opposition: they are moving from the interim presidency to the parliament, with the aim of continuing to steal from Venezuela, because the objective is to reach the elections with the economy in crisis so that the people exercise the punishment vote [against Chavismo].”
The new measure, License 31B, authorizes the illegal body known as “AN 2016,” composed of former deputies of the previous term of the National Assembly whose mandate ended two years ago, to carry out financial transactions and negotiations in US territory.
On August 5, 2019, the US government issued Executive Order number 13,884 against Venezuela, blocking Venezuelan companies and assets in US territory (PDVSA, CITGO, diplomatic mission headquarters, among others) by prohibiting the transfer, payment, export, withdrawal, or exchange of goods and interests owned by the government of Venezuela that are within US territory.
On the same day, the US Treasury Department, through OFAC, published general license number 31, which allowed the National Assembly of Venezuela, whose term had started on January 5, 2016, to carry out transactions and activities associated with the Venezuelan assets frozen in the United States.
This measure “illegally empowered Juan Guaidó to exercise functions of the ‘government of Venezuela’ through certain transactions with US persons or entities, such as the transfer to the US Federal Reserve of $342 million owned by the Central Bank of Venezuela, which had been frozen in April 2020,” the Venezuelan Anti-Blockade Observatory announced in a statement.
License 31 modified: No mention of Guaidó
Until now, License 31, now called 31B, has been modified twice: the first time, on January 4, 2021 (renamed License 31A) after the formation of the National Assembly for the period 2021-2026; and the second time, on January 9, 2023 (31B) after the dissolution of the so-called “interim government” headed by the self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaidó.
With this new modification, the illegal body called the “2016 National Assembly” has been authorized by the United States to carry out transactions and negotiations with individuals and entities in US territory, the new stipulation omitting the authority of the “interim president” to act on behalf of the “government of Venezuela.” In fact, the word “interim president” has been entirely removed from the license.
However, the license maintains restrictions against members of or persons related to the current and legitimate National Assembly and the National Constituent Assembly of 2017.
License 31B tries to maintain the narrative against Venezuela
According to the Venezuelan Anti-Blockade Observatory, this new action by the US government clearly shows its interest in “maintaining before the international community a pseudo-legal narrative to continue justifying its acts of plunder against Venezuela.”
The new coercive measure, number 928 against Venezuela, maintains “the exclusion of the Central Bank of Venezuela and Petróleos de Venezuela from carrying out any type of transaction or negotiation with US citizens or entities, thus blocking, in practice, the restructuring of the sovereign debt and the debt of the Venezuelan oil companies,” the Anti-Blockade Observatory noted.
(Últimas Noticias) by Janna Corredor
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
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