In Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro is blaming the U.S. government for a prolonged power outage that plunged most of the country into darkness Thursday. Maduro says anti-government saboteurs backed by the U.S. took the nation’s main hydroelectric power station at the Guri Dam offline. The blackout compounded the misery of Venezuelans already enduring a severe economic crisis amid crippling U.S.-led sanctions. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Maduro’s government for the outage and threatened regime change in a flurry of tweets, one of which read, “No food. No medicine. Now, no power. Next, no Maduro.” Meanwhile, President Trump’s special envoy on Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, told a Senate panel Thursday that the Trump administration will sanction banks that trade with the Maduro government.
Elliott Abrams: “We have sanctioned a number of financial institutions already, and we’re going to expand the net. We have under consideration other institutions, which I won’t name because we don’t want them to get advance notice, but there will be more sanctions on financial institutions that are carrying out the orders of the Maduro regime to steal funds from Venezuela and hide it all around the world.”
On Thursday, 16 progressive House Democrats, including Ro Khanna, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, sent a letter to Secretary of State Pompeo condemning U.S. threats of military intervention in Venezuela and U.S. sanctions. The letter read, in part, “[T]he president’s recent economic sanctions threaten to exacerbate the country’s grave economic crisis, causing immense suffering for the most vulnerable in society who bear no responsibility for the situation in the country.”