May 21 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order preventing Venezuela from liquidating assets to U.S. buyers following a weekend election the administration deemed fraudulent, senior administration officials said.
The order prevents the regime of newly re-elected President Nicolas Maduro from selling off public assets for "fire sale prices," an official said. On Sunday, Maduro, of the ruling United Socialist Party, beat Henri Falcon of the Advanced Progressive Party with 68 percent of the vote.
The United States condemned the regime for banning major opposition leaders from participating and suppressing free press. In some cases, U.S. officials said, regime officials gave food or money to voters who voted for Maduro. In the past, communities who have voted against the regime had food benefits withheld from them.
"The Maduro regime has devastated Venezuela's economy and democracy," an official told reporters Monday afternoon. "The regime bears the responsibility for the suffering of the Venezuelan people."
"We call for the Maduro regime to restore democracy, hold free and fair elections, release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally, and end the repression and economic deprivation of the Venezuelan people," Trump said in a statement.
The executive order prevents Venezuela from selling debt associated with state-owned oil company PDVSA, pledging debt that is owed to the government as collateral and from selling any entity of which it holds 50 percent or greater interest.
The government has attempted to sell debt at "pennies on the dollar" in an attempt to enrich the regime elite and circumvent existing financial sanctions. An administration official said the actions serve to "mortgage away the future of the Venezuelan people."
The United States wasn't the only country to take issue with the election process. Fourteen nations recalled their ambassadors in Caracas, including Argentina, Brazil and Canada.
U.S. sanctions earlier this year targeted Venezuela's use of cryptocurrency, which officials called an attempt to "defraud international investors." The U.S. Treasury Department also has sanctioned multiple Venezuelan officials for election irregularities and corruption.
Venezuela is embroiled in a financial crisis that has seen skyrocketing inflation and a scarcity of basic goods like food and medicines. Meanwhile, the Maduro regime has been accused of human rights violations in crackdowns on opposition figures and protesters.
In 2016, the Venezuelan opposition collected enough signatures to force a recall referendum of Maduro, but delays in the three-step petition process stalled any efforts to force an early snap election.