January 5, 2018 / 6:00 PM / 6 months ago

U.S. targets former Venezuela food minister in new sanctions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States imposed sanctions on Friday on four current or former Venezuelan government officials, including an ex-food minister who is accused of corruption and mismanagement of the country’s food supply.

The U.S. Treasury said in a statement that it had put the former food minister, Rodolfo Marco, who is also a former finance minister appointed by President Nicolas Maduro, on its Venezuela sanctions list.

It also listed Francisco Rangel, a former governor of Bolivar state; Fabio Zavarse Pabon, a commander in the national armed forces; and Gerardo Izquierdo Torres, a state minister.

The Treasury action freezes any assets the men have under U.S. jurisdiction and bars U.S. citizens from dealing with them.

Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The move is Washington’s latest action targeting individual politicians and security figures for what U.S. President Donald Trump has called an erosion of democracy. Venezuela is reeling from an economic crisis, with millions struggling with food and medicine shortages.

“President Maduro and his inner circle continue to put their own interests above those of the Venezuelan people,” U.S Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.

“This action underscores the United States’ resolve to hold Maduro and others engaged in corruption in Venezuela accountable.”

Maduro regularly laughs off Washington’s disapproval and blames the U.S. “empire” for Venezuela’s economic woes.

Reporting by David Alexander and Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Lisa Von Ahn

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