United States president Donald Trump signed an executive order yesterday placing sanctions on Venezuelan gold, a measure that will further constrain the Maduro regime’s ability to finance itself.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury explained that the purpose of the gold sanctions is to “counter rampant corruption within the Government of Venezuela”, and to:

… prevent the regime and its corrupt associates from further exploiting Venezuela’s people and resources

Earlier this years, Reuters reported that the Maduro regime had shipped $779 million in gold to Turkey for processing. According to Reuters, the Venezuela-Turkey gold transfers are: 

… further evidence that the South American country is shifting its pattern of trade following a wave of sanctions that began last year.

According to Bloomberg, Trump signed the order yesterday but its existence was not publicized until earlier today, in a speech by National Security Adviser John Bolton. 

Bolton hinted at the speech yesterday through his official Twitter account: 

Bloomberg had access to “an advanced copy” of Bolton’s speech, part of which reads:

 The new sanctions will target networks operating within corrupt Venezuelan economic sectors and deny them access to stolen wealth (…) Most immediately, the new sanctions will prevent U.S. persons from engaging with actors and networks complicit in corrupt or deceptive transactions in the Venezuelan gold.

In his speech, Bolton said that Venezuela is part of a “troika of tyranny” that includes Cuba and Nicaragua, invoking the language of former president George W. Bush–in whose cabinet Bolton served–when he called Cuba, Libya and Syria the “axis of evil” in 2002.

Bolton continued by calling the leaders of the three nations–Maduro, Diaz Canel and Ortega–“clownish, pitiful figures”, and referred to them as “Larry, Curly and Moe” of the famed Three Stooges.

When asked if a military invasion of Venezuela was in the cards, Bolton replied

I don’t see that happening

Harold Trinkunas, deputy director at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, told the Associated Press that there was “no doubt that the speech had an electoral purpose”, as the United States prepares to vote in highly contested midterm elections next week.

BCV Workers Protest For Better Conditions, Salaries

Workers at the Banco Central de Venezuela [Venezuelan Central Bank] (BCV) staged a protest outside of the institution’s Caracas headquarters today to demand better salaries and working conditions. 

Chief among the workers’ complaints is the fact that the Maduro regime is now paying all of them exactly the same monthly salaries, regardless of how long they have been with the organization or what their positions are. 

Starting in September of this year, all public sector employees earn exactly the same. This means that a seasoned manager with decades of experience and a recent graduate a day on the job take home the same amount of money at the end of each month, which is approximately $7.63 at the current black market rate

The measure–which also brought an end to public sector collective bargaining agreements–was undertaken, the regime claims, in order to manage costs.

Below, an image of the protest at the BCV today:

In the video below, workers chant that they want Calixto Ortega, the head of the BCV, to come down and talk to them about their demands:

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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