June 28, 2019

Mini-Maduro targeted as US turns screws on Venezuela leaders son
The US has imposed sanctions on Nicolasito, 29, who claims to be an economist and a flautist and has faced claims of nepotismNicolás Maduro Guerra, son of Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro, is allegedly a major player in the country’s gold trade. Photograph: Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty ImagesThe Trump administration has slapped sanctions on the son of Nicolás Maduro, in the latest attempt to tighten the screws on Venezuela’s embattled leader.The move by the US treasury department freezes any US assets belonging to the president’s son – Nicolás Maduro Guerra, or Nicolasito – and bars Americans from doing business with him.“Maduro relies on his son Nicolasito and others close to his authoritarian regime to maintain a stranglehold on the economy and suppress the people of Venezuela,” said the treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin.Like his father, Nicolasito is tall and portly; at 29 years old, he is one of the youngest political figures in Maduro’s inner circle.He is allegedly a major player in Venezuela’s gold trade. According to Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera, a former spy chief who recently fled to the US, an assistant of Nicolasito set up a company to buy gold from miners and sell it to Venezuela’s central bank at inflated rates.Little is known about Nicolasito’s personal life, although he is understood to be married with two children. His Twitter biography describes him as an economics graduate and a flautist in the world-famous Sistema network of youth orchestras, although government critics have expressed doubt over both claims.His political career appears to have taken off soon after his father was elected president in 2013, when at the age of 23 he was appointed as the head of Venezuela’s body of inspectors, fueling accusations of nepotism.In 2014 he was also named as director of the Venezuelan School of Cinema, again prompting incredulity about his credentials. “Maduro’s son knows nothing [about cinema]” the feted Venezuelan playwright José Tomás Angola said at the time. “What he does know is how to steal a camera.”Since 2017 Nicolasito has sat on the constituent national assembly – the loyalist body set up to sideline the opposition-held national assembly.When Donald Trump floated the possibility of a military intervention to oust President Maduro, Nicolasito responded with a speech threatening a Venezuelan invasion of the United States. “The rifles will reach New York, Mr Trump!” he boomed, looking at the camera. “We will reach and take the White House!”In a country beset by economic collapse and intense food shortages, Nicolasito prompted outrage in March 2017 when he was filmed at a society wedding in Caracas, dancing to Arabic music while being showered with dollars. He brushed the incident off as “gossip”.The US has sanctioned more than 100 Venezuelan officials and insiders accused of corruption, human rights violations and drug trafficking, including Maduro himself and his wife, Cilia Flores.



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