CARACAS, April 7 (Xinhua) -- The Venezuelan government categorically rejected the unilateral measures imposed by the United States on the South American country's petroleum industry and warned it would respond through "corresponding legal channels."
"Venezuela considers unacceptable the cynical and criminal decision by the government of Donald Trump to try to apply measures that violate international rights," said a statement that was released Friday night via Twitter by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza.
The official response was published hours after Washington announced it would sanction 34 freighters of the state-owned oil company PDVSA and transport companies "to affect the shipment of oil to the sister Republic of Cuba."
The sanctions affect Ballito Shipping Inc., based in Liberia, and ProPer In Management Inc., in Greece, both dedicated to shipping Venezuelan crude to Cuba.
In addition, the statement said the initiative from Washington aims to punish "not only the Venezuelan and Cuban people, but also companies and trade associations."
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence made assurances that Washington will continue "with all the economic and diplomatic pressure" against Caracas and reiterated that "all options are on the table."
Ever since Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second term on Jan. 10, the United States has adopted financial and diplomatic measures against Venezuela, including sanctions on Venezuela's Central Bank, public banks, the PDVSA and other state-owned companies.
In addition, the U.S. government has revoked hundreds of visas from Venezuelans, prohibited U.S. citizens from making transactions with the Venezuelan cryptocurrency known as "Petro," and renewed the executive order declaring Venezuela a national security threat to the United States.