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March 18, 2019

US may bar Visa and Mastercard from processing transaction in Venezuela

The US government is likely to prohibit payment giants Visa and Mastercard from processing transactions in Venezuela, Reuters reported citing a senior government official.

If cleared, the move will specifically target the elite loyalists supporting Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro including military group members, Cubans and armed gangs in Venezuela.

However, ordinary civilians can still use these payment methods for food and medicines, report added.

The US administration may also block state-owned financial institutions’ access to Belgium-based financial messaging service SWIFT.

The sanction may also be imposed on Venezuelan financial institutions that are said to be close to President Maduro.

Reuter’s reports added that sanctions could also target the country’s overall financial sector.

“The purpose of these sanctions is to continue to deprive the illegitimate Maduro regime of access to funds, and deny their ability to continue stealing from the Venezuelan people,” Reuters quoted the undisclosed source as saying.

The US has imposed many sanctions on Maduro’s government, his allies and the country’s oil company PDVSA, after recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela at the end of January this year.

Recently, the U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned Russia-based Evrofinance Mosnarbank for trying to circumvent US sanctions on Venezuela.

US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin in a press statement said: “The illegitimate Maduro regime has profited off of the suffering of the Venezuelan people. This action demonstrates that the United States will take action against foreign financial institutions that sustain the illegitimate Maduro regime, and contribute to the economic collapse and humanitarian crisis plaguing the people of Venezuela.”

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