The U.S. Treasury Department on Friday added the defense and security sectors of Venezuela to the parts of its economy subject to sanctions, as Nicolas Maduro hunts down those he holds responsible for a failed attempt last month to remove him from power.
Top allies of opposition leader Juan Guaido, including members of the country’s legislature, have gone into hiding, Bloomberg News reported, with the officials taking refuge in embassies and safe houses following the detention of National Assembly Vice President Edgar Zambrano by the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service, known as SEBIN.
Maduro has held onto power despite the uprisings led by Guaido; the U.S. has continued to ramp up its sanctions, and Friday’s moves were “a direct response to SEBIN’s illegal arrest of National Assembly members,” the Treasury said.
The move puts Venezuela’s military and intelligence services, as well as those supporting them, on notice, said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “Their continued backing of the illegitimate Maduro regime will be met with serious consequences,” he said.
The Treasury did not designate any specific entities or individuals in the defense and security sectors on Friday. But it has earlier sanctioned a number of officials, including Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, SEBIN First Commander Hildemaro Rodriguez and Rafael Bastardo, director of a national police unit that has been referred to as Maduro’s extermination squad.