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Venezuela slams US over “vulgar” central bank funds seizure

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Venezuela's Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza addresses the UN Human Rights Council's main annual session on February 25, 2020 in Geneva, Switzerland. (Photo by AFP)

Venezuela has slammed the United States over the seizure of $342 million worth of assets that its central bank had held in an account at Citibank.

In a Twitter post on Friday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza blasted the "vulgar dispossession” of the money "ordered" by the United States.

He also pointed to "complicity" by Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, which has been declared an illegitimate body by the government in Caracas.

Venezuela’s US-based assets are among those that have been frozen under tough sanctions put in place against the Latin American country by the government of President Donald Trump.  

Washington's sanctions, which include the illegal confiscation of Venezuelan assets abroad and an economic blockade, have caused enormous suffering for millions of people in the country.

This week, Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly authorized its leader, Juan Guaido, to transfer the funds from a central bank account with Citibank to its account at the New York branch of the US Federal Reserve.

Opposition lawmaker Angel Alvarado said the move aimed to "further protect these assets," but the central bank has called it illegal.

Guaido is considered responsible for causing a political crisis in Venezuela when he unilaterally declared himself “interim president” of the country in January last year, rejecting the outcome of the May 2018 election, which President Nicolas Maduro had won. Guaido also later launched an abortive coup against the elected government.

Guaido’s self-proclamation as president and his coup received full support from Washington. Caracas has said election results must be respected, but has shown lenience and refrained from arresting Guaido over the coup.

The US has imposed several rounds of crippling sanctions against the oil-rich South American country aimed at ousting Maduro and replacing him with Guaido. Washington has also flirted with the idea of using military force to take out Maduro’s government.

Maduro, however, has remained in power, with the army refusing to side with Guaido.

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