The US has imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil firm PDVSA after the country’s president refused to step down.

Nicolás Maduro is currently facing fierce demonstrations against his authority, with opposition leader .

’s administration quickly stated that they recognised Guadio as interim president, followed by more than 20 other countries including Brazil and Canada.

National Security Adviser John Bolton said today that Maduro and his allies could ‘no longer loot the assets of the Venezuelan people’.

The proceeds of the purchase of Venezuelan oil would now be withheld from Maduro’s government, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

But the PDVSA could avoid the sanctions – by recognising Guaido as Venezuela’s leader.

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Mnuchin says US consumers should not expect to see higher prices at gas stations if the sanctions are not called off.

There are a handful of US refineries depend on the oil, but that dependence had recently been reduced, he said.

He added: ‘Many of our friends in the Middle East will be happy to make up the supply as we push down Venezuela’s supply.’

It is reported that 35 people have lost their lives so far in protests against Maduro’s leadership.

NGO Foro Penal said 850 people, among them 77 minors, were arrested in the last week.

Maduro assumed presidency in 2013, after his predecessor and mentor Hugo Chávez died.

Under their ruling, Venezuela has spiralled into its worst-ever economic crisis, marked by corruption, hyperinflation and debt.

Around three million Venezuelans have fled abroad over the past five years to escape widespread shortages of food and medicine.

But on January 10, Maduro started a second term despite a widely-boycotted election in 2018, with many foreign governments describing the proceedings as a sham.

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