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US sanctions against Venezuela's bank will affect 24 million clients — foreign ministry

On Friday the US Treasury imposed sanctions on the Venezuelan Economic and Social Development Bank (Bandes)

CARACAS, March 23. /TASS/. US sanctions imposed on Venezuela's Bandes bank will affect almost 24 million clients, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said in a statement released on Friday.

"This illegal coercive measure will affect 23,950,280 clients (individuals, as well as state and private companies) in Venezuela," the foreign ministry said. The Venezuelan government condemned "unilateral, coercive, arbitrary and illegal measures that affect Venezuela's Bandes bank and four important financial institutions," the ministry added.

"The people and government of Venezuela will continue defending their independence and political, economic and cultural sovereignty," the foreign ministry stressed.

On Friday the US Treasury imposed sanctions on the Venezuelan Economic and Social Development Bank (Bandes); Uruguay-based Banco Bandes Uruguay; Venezuelan banks Banco Bicentenario del Pueblo and Banco de Venezuela; and Bolivia-based Banco Prodem S.A. The move came after Roberto Marrero, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido's chief of staff, was arrested on charges of organizing a terrorist cell and conspiring to assassinate politicians and military officials.

On January 23 Venezuelan National Assembly Speaker Juan Guaido proclaimed himself as the country's acting president. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has described it as a coup attempt and announced severing diplomatic relations with the United States. On January 28 the US imposed sancitons on Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA oil company.

Guaido was recognized as interim president by the Lima Group countries (except for Mexico), as well as by Albania, Georgia, the United States, and the Organization of American States. Several EU countries came forward with support for the Venezuelan parliament and expressed hope for new elections to resolve the crisis. Maduro was supported by Russia, Bolivia, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Turkey. Belarus and China called for resolving all issues by peaceful means and spoke against any interference from the outside. The UN secretary general called for dialogue to resolve the crisis.