The Trump administration on Friday sanctioned four current and former senior military officials in Venezuela, including an ex-food minister accused of corruption and mismanagement of the troubled country's food supply.
Friday's action marks the third time the U.S. government has sanctioned Venezuelan officials over the last several months. The new sanctions come as the South American nation's economic and political crises continue to result in shortages of food, medicine, and other basic necessities, and after new reports that hundreds of children are dying of starvation across the country.
"President Maduro and his inner circle continue to put their own interests above those of the Venezuelan people," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. "This action underscores the United States' resolve to hold Maduro and others engaged in corruption accountable."
The U.S. now calls on "concerned parties and international partners around the world to join us as we stand with the Venezuelan people to further isolate this oppressive regime," Mnuchin said.
The officials sanctioned in this round include Rodolfo Clemente Marco Torres, a former finance minister appointed by President Nicolas Maduro who also previously served as president of the Bank of Venezuela and minister of food. Marco Torres has been allegedly linked to corruption schemes related to food imports, which the Venezuelan military controls.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) applauded the move as part of the Trump administration's efforts to support the Venezuelan opposition and "its desire to restore democracy and the rule of law."
"While the Maduro regime continues to repress the rights of Venezuelans, the United States stands firmly on the side of the Venezuelan people," Rubio said.
The sanctions also target Francisco Jose Rangel Gomez, the former governor of Bolivar; Gen. Fabio Enrique Zavarse Pabon, a commander in the armed forces; and Maj. Gen. Gerardo Jose Izquierdo Torres, a state minister.
The Treasury action freezes any assets the Venezuelans have in the United States and prohibits U.S. citizens from engaging in any financial transactions with them.