Treasury sanctions Venezuelan business to isolate Maduro

The Treasury Department on Friday targeted four companies and nine ships, including some that transported oil from Venezuela to Cuba, as part of the Trump administration's ongoing efforts to isolate President Nicolas Maduro.

So far, the U.S. has revoked the visas of 718 of Maduro's associates and has issued sanctions on more than 150 people and entities.

"We continue to target companies that transport Venezuelan oil to Cuba, as they are profiting while the Maduro regime pillages natural resources," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. "Venezuela's oil belongs to the Venezuelan people, and should not be used as a bargaining tool to prop up dictators and prolong oppression."

Despite the sanctions, Maduro clings to power with help from Russia, China and Cuba. The international coalition that supports the opposition stands at 54 nations, although some longtime U.S. allies have refused to join the Trump administration in recognizing the head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as interim president.

The companies sanctioned were Jennifer Navigation Limited, Lima Shipping Corp. and Large Range Limited, all based in Monrovia, Liberia, and three of their vessels suspected of delivering oil products from Venezuela to Cuba this year. In addition, Treasury sanctioned PB Tankers S.P.A., based in Italy, and six of its oil and storage tankers, including one that also delivered Venezuelan petroleum products to Cuba.