FILE - Nicolas Maduro Jr. (C) accompanies his father, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in a military parade, in Caracas, Venezuela,April 13, 2018.
FILE - Nicolas Maduro Jr., center, accompanies his father, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, in a military parade, in Caracas, Venezuela, April 13, 2018.

The U.S. has imposed sanctions against the son of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the latest step in the U.S. campaign to force the socialist leader out of office.

The U.S. Treasury Department said Friday it would freeze any assets Nicolas "Nicolasito" Maduro Jr. has in the U.S. and prohibit American individuals or businesses from conducting business with him.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement the Venezuelan president relies on "Nicolasito and others close to his authoritarian regime to maintain a stranglehold on the economy and suppress the people of Venezuela." 

The U.S. agency accused Maduro Jr. of engaging in propaganda and censorship, profiting from Venezuelan mines and pressuring the military to prevent humanitarian aid from entering the country.

A senior U.S. administration official said the U.S. is considering additional sanctions against other family members.

Venezuelan crisis

The U.S. sanctioned Maduro himself in 2017. Since Maduro was elected two years earlier, he has overseen a growing political, humanitarian and economic crisis replete with chronic shortages of essentials such as food and medicine.

The U.N. says the Venezuelan crisis has forced some four million people to flee the country since 2015.

The U.S. and about 50 other countries have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate president. Guaido's nearly six-month campaign to oust Maduro has not been successful, despite the recognition from world leaders.

The Washington Post, citing unnamed "officials," reported earlier this month that U.S. President Donald Trump is losing interest in Venezuela with Maduro still in place, a report the administration has denied.

On Friday as Trump met with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the Group of 20 summit, he denied the U.S. had lost momentum in achieving its objectives in Venezuela. 
 

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