US weighs financial sanctions

HOUSTON/WASHINGTON – The US is considering financial sanctions on Venezuela that would halt dollar payments for the country’s oil, according to a senior White House official and an adviser with direct knowledge of the discussions.

The move could severely restrict the OPEC nation’s crude exports and starve its socialist government of hard currency.

Sanctions prohibiting any transaction in US currency by Venezuela’s state-run oil firm, PDVSA, are among the toughest of various oil-related measures under discussion at the White House, the two sources told Reuters.

The administration aims to pressure socialist President Nicolas Maduro into aborting plans for a controversial new congress that critics say would cement him as a dictator.

Venezuela’s oil-based economy is in the grip of a brutal recession and a local currency crash, and Mr Maduro has faced months of anti-government unrest that has claimed the lives of about 100 people.

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