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The U.S. will keep pressuring Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's regime through sanctions until the Latin American nation's humanitarian crisis improves, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday night.
"We will continue to target members of this regime until the people of Venezuela once again have a say in their government and access to their country's precious resources," Mnuchin said in a keynote speech at a ceremony in New York organized by The Appeal of Conscience Foundation.
The U.S. has slapped sanctions on dozens of Venezuelans associated with Maduro's regime. Most recently, the Treasury Department said Tuesday it imposed sanctions on Cilia Flores, Maduro's wife. The department also seized a $20 million private jet that belonged to an alleged front man for Diosdado Cabello, the vice president of Venezuela's socialist party.
Venezuela has been mired by a humanitarian crisis in recent years. The country faces shortages of food and basic goods. Its economy is also in shambles. Its currency, the bolivar, is basically worthless and inflation could reach 1 million percent by year-end, according to the International Monetary Fund.
"Venezuelan officials have looted their country's resources — everything from natural resources such as oil to consumer products intended to eliminate poverty such as [dried milk]," Mnuchin said. "The result is that the Venezuelan people are suffering from a humanitarian crisis while their leaders amass ill-gotten gains."
"We will continue to aggressively implement sanctions against bad actors all around the world. Corruption and human rights abuse take a toll on victims affected by such actions. The United States has taken the bold step of declaring that such abuses also threaten the stability of our international economy and political systems," Mnuchin added.
After arriving in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, Maduro said Wednesday he is willing to "shake hands" with U.S. President Donald Trump, adding that he is willing to talk about anything the U.S. wants to discuss.