Cuba condemns USA sanctions against Venezuela

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza

Venezuela held nationwide armed forces exercises on Saturday, calling on civilians to join reserve units to defend against a possible attack after U.S. President Donald Trump warned of a "military option" for the crisis-hit country.

The US embassy in Caracas advised its citizens in the country to stay away from the military exercises, warning of the risk of action by armed civilian loyalists. "No military actions are anticipated in the near future", said National Security Advisor HR McMaster on Friday.

McMaster's remarks came after the announcement of a new round of United States economic sanctions on the South American country, restricting the Venezuelan government's access to American debt and equity markets. During his stay at the headquarters of the United Nations, Arreaza assured that Venezuelans will stand firm and united in the face of Washington's threats, noting that the Bolivarian Revolution evaluates responses to sanctions and other hostile acts of the planet.

Elected in 2013, Maduro, the political heir to the late Hugo Chavez, has hung onto power despite food shortages and social upheaval.

The sanctions, which Trump signed by executive order, prohibit American financial institutions from providing new money to Venezuela or the state oil company, PDVSA, and could make it harder for Maduro to raise badly needed cash to prevent a debt default.

"Never before has Venezuela been threatened in such a way".

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said the armed forces support "all measures being implemented to counter the financial blockade".

While Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro said they are illegal, and the first to suffer will be US investors because 62 percent of Venezuelan government bonds are held by them.

Maduro's opponents accuse military police and pro-Maduro militia of beating and killing anti-government protesters.

Protest clashes have left 125 people dead so far this year, according to prosecutors.

Maduro decried the U.S. measures during a national address on Friday.

On Friday, he accused opposition leaders in his country of pushing for the U.S. sanctions and called for legislative speaker Julio Borges to be tried for treason.

Trades of existing bonds commissioned by Caracas will also be barred.



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