U.S. considering more sanctions to ratchet up pressure on Venezuela: special envoy

FILE PHOTO: United States diplomat Elliott Abrams listens during a meeting of the U.N. Security Council called to vote on a U.S. draft resolution calling for free and fair presidential elections in Venezuela at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is looking at additional sanctions to step up pressure on the Venezuelan government, the U.S. special envoy for the country said on Monday, after Venezuela’s ruling Socialist party moved forcefully to install a new head of Congress.

Special envoy Elliott Abrams spoke to reporters at the U.S. State Department a day after armed troops blocked Venezuelan opposition legislators, including their leader Juan Guaido, from entering parliament.

“We are looking at additional sanctions – personal sanctions, economic sanctions – that we think will bring more pressure yet on the regime,” Abrams said.

In addition, he said, the U.S. Congress had allocated “a fair amount of money to help the Democratic opposition in Venezuela and we will be thinking of ways to use those funds and to try to get other countries to give support.”

He said the United States would also try to get other countries to provide support for the opposition.

Troops with riot shields on Sunday blocked Guaido from entering parliament for what was expected to be his re-election as head of Congress.

Opposition legislators quickly re-elected Guaido – who is recognized by dozens of nations as Venezuela’s rightful leader – in a session at the headquarters of a pro-opposition newspaper.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Daphne Psaledakis; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Lisa Lambert and Tom Brown