U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, shown in January. The Treasury Department increased sanctions on Venezuela on Friday. Photo: Jim young/Reuters
The U.S. government on Friday increased sanctions on Venezuela, blacklisting a vessel that transported oil from Venezuela to Cuba and the two companies operating in the oil sector of Venezuela that own and operate the vessel.
The designations come as the U.S. government continues to use economic sanctions to cripple the regime of Nicolás Maduro, who the Trump administration said is illegitimate and corrupt. The actions in recent months have targeted Venezuela’s oil industry, which the Treasury Department said provides a lifeline to the Maduro regime.
“Cuba has been an underlying force fueling Venezuela’s descent into crisis,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
Cuba is a major importer of crude oil from Venezuela and sends assistance to Venezuela in the form of political advisers, military officials and medical professionals in return, according to the Treasury.
Representatives for the Cuban embassy in Washington couldn’t be reached late Friday for comment.
The vessel placed under sanctions on Friday is Despina Andrianna, a crude oil tanker that delivered oil from Venezuela to Cuba during February and March, according to a statement from the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. OFAC also blocked the vessel’s registered owner, Ballito Bay Shipping Inc., which is based in Monrovia, Liberia, and its operator, ProPer In Management Inc., which is based in the port city of Piraeus, Athens, Greece, according to the Treasury.
Ballito Bay Shipping didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Efforts to reach ProPer In Management weren’t successful.
The Treasury also identified 34 vessels as blocked property of Venezuela’s oil giant Petróleos de Venezuela SA, or PdVSA, which was placed under sanctions in January.
Write to Mengqi Sun at [email protected]