Vice President Mike Pence hinted Wednesday at soon-to-come economic sanctions against the Venezuelan government, but he offered little in the way of specifics of what a more robust U.S. response might look like or when it might come, choosing instead to deliver a broader message of hope to increasingly despondent Venezuelans.
Pence indicated the Trump administration intends to further punish Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his loyalists for undermining the South American country’s democracy. Economic sanctions, perhaps aimed at restricting trade in Venezuelan debt in dollars, could come as early as this week, the Miami Herald has learned. But Pence did not detail any potential penalties.
“Our resolve is unwavering; our conviction is clear” Pence told a few hundred people at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Doral, Miami’s Venezuelan immigrant hub. “You may be assured: Under the leadership of President Donald Trump, the United States of America will continue to bring the full measure of American economic and diplomatic power to bear until democracy is restored in Venezuela.”
The crowd, which had waited hours for Pence, responded with enthusiastic bursts of applause. Women with the tricolor Venezuelan flag draped over their shoulders appeared to be channeling energy built up over months of worry about their country’s prolonged political crisis.
“¡Libertad!” they chanted.
Under consideration by the White House this week is banning any trades in U.S. dollars of Venezuelan debt, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. That’s the sort of financial sanction — short of prohibiting Venezuelan oil imports and exports — that Rubio and other South Florida politicians have pushed to starve Maduro of cash. The Treasury Department has already slapped individual financial and travel restrictions on 30 Venezuelans tied to the government.
Pence did not delve into any specifics about upcoming action. But Diaz-Balart and Rubio praised the White House for imposing four rounds of individual sanctions in seven months in office.
“I have 100 percent confidence that the president and vice president of the United States will take the appropriate measures,” Rubio said. “They will do it at the right time, and they will do it in the right way, but they will do it. It is going to happen.”
No one received a more raucous welcome than Rubio, who got an extended standing ovation at the church before he addressed Venezuelans in English and then Spanish from a lectern in front of the pulpit.
“I am confident that one day, in a Venezuela that is free, many of us will be able to gather in a setting such as this,” Rubio said.