By Roberta Rampton
(Reuters) – The Trump administration turned up the pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday by targeting his son Nicolas “Nicolasito” Maduro with sanctions, the U.S. Treasury Department said.
Maduro’s son has been involved in propaganda and censorship, has profited from Venezuelan mines, and helped pressure the military to keep humanitarian aid out of the country, the Treasury Department said.
The new sanctions are the latest twist in six months of efforts to oust Maduro, whose 2018 re-election was deigned as illegitimate by the United States and most Western nations.
“Maduro relies on his son Nicolasito and others close to his authoritarian regime to maintain a stranglehold on the economy and suppress the people of Venezuela,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
“Treasury will continue to target complicit relatives of illegitimate regime insiders profiting off of Maduro’s corruption,” Mnuchin said.
President Donald Trump has thrown his support behind opposition leader Juan Guaido of the country’s National Assembly, who invoked Venezuela’s constitution in January to declare himself interim president.
Maduro, who is backed by China, Russia and Turkey, has retained the support of the country’s military and other institutions, and calls Guaido a Washington puppet.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Bill Trott)