The United States has increased the pressure on the controversial regime of President Nicolás Maduro with sanctions against the Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA and the central bank of Venezuela.
The US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says that Citgo Petroleum, a Houston-based subsidiary of PDVSA, will be able to continue operating, but no money can go to the Maduro regime.
Instead, the proceeds will be held on blocked US accounts.
The minister added that he expects a "modest" impact on US refineries in the "short term". He noted that the sanctions do not affect already purchased oil that has yet to be delivered.
"We continue to expose the corruption of Maduro and his cronies, and today's action ensures that they can no longer plunder the possessions of the Venezuelan population," said US National Security Advisor John Bolton during a briefing against reporters at the White House.
The US recognizes Guaidó as interim president
The newly elected President of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, appointed himself the interim president of the country on Wednesday. The United States was the first country to recognize Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.
Maduro then stated that Guaidó attempted a coup with the help of the Americans. He also announced that American diplomats should leave the country in the short term. A few days later he said he would close the Venezuelan embassy and consulates in the United States.