U.S. Treasury targets Venezuela's First Lady, Maduro's 'inner circle'

Venezuela's First Lady faces new U.S. sanctions

By Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer

MIAMI - The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced new sanctions on Tuesday against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's wife and three other Venezuelans.

Aside from Cilia Adela Flores de Maduro, the U.S. designation also targets Delcy Eloina Rodriguez Gomez, Jorge Jesus Rodriguez Gomez, Vladimir Padrino Lopez. 

President Donald Trump announced the new U.S. sanctions during his speech at the United Nations' General Assembly and said socialism has bankrupted the oil rich nation and driven its people into abject poverty corruption and decay.

"All nations of the world should reject socialism," Trump said. 

The designation allows U.S. authorities to block their access to all property and interests in property and prohibits people in the United States from engaging in transactions with them. 

The Treasury also seized a $20 million private jet in Florida that belonged to Rafael Sarria, an alleged front man for powerful socialist party boss Diosdado Cabello.

"Maduro relies on his inner circle to maintain his grip on power, as his regime systematically plunders what remains of Venezuela’s wealth," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. "We are continuing to designate loyalists who enable Maduro to solidify his hold on the military and the government while the Venezuelan people suffer."

Mnuchin also said the Treasury will continue to impose sanctions on those the U.S. views as responsible for Venezuela’s tragic decline and on the networks and front-men the Venezuelan kleptocrats use to mask the alleged illicit wealth.

Flores de Maduro, 61, who is a Venezuelan attorney and the First Lady of Venezuela, wed Maduro in 2013. She has served as the 4th president of Venezuela's national assembly, the attorney general, a member of the national assembly and a member of the national constituent assembly. Her three sons are under investigation for money laundering and her two nephews were arrested for attempting to bring cocaine into the United States through Haiti.

Delcy Rodriguez, 49, is the president of the constituent assembly Maduro set up last year. She has also served as the minister of foreign affairs and as the minister of popular power for communication and information. Canada, Switzerland and the European Union have also sanctioned her. Critics of the socialist party have linked her to the suspected Smartmatic electoral fraud scandal.

Rodriguez's older brother, Jorge Rodriguez, 52, has served as the mayor of the Libertador Bolivarian municipality and as the 22nd vice president of Venezuela. Canada sanctioned him last year. 

Padrino, 55, is the minister of defense and was a colonel when he remained loyal to Chavez during the 2002 coup attempt. Maduro entrusted him with the power to distribute medicine and food. Canada sanctioned him last year. 

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