United States sanctions Venezuelan officials amid anti-Maduro protests

Adjust Comment Print

The announcement makes good on a warning issued a week ago by President Donald Trump, who threatened "strong and swift economic actions" were Caracas to go ahead with Sunday's vote for a so-called constituent assembly.

The deadliness of four months of violent anti-Maduro protests was further confirmed with the death by gunfire of a 30-year-old man in a demonstration in the west of the country.

Embattled president Nicolás Maduro has called Sunday's election to choose members for a body that will be tasked with rewriting the constitution his own populist Chavista movement drafted in 1999 under the auspices of his deceased predecessor and mentor, Hugo Chávez.

Supporters of the opposition and the Maduro government skirmished in the streets, with overnight volleys of tear gas, rubber bullets and homemade bombs arcing through the air in the capital.

The strike aims to pressure Maduro into cancelling a controversial vote for a new congress at the weekend. The crisis will worsen.

Elections boss Lucena is scorned by opposition activists, who have said that she has delayed regional elections and blocked a recall referendum against Maduro at the behest of an autocratic government.

As of Thursday, 106 people have been killed in Venezuela's political unrest since April, the attorney general's office told CNN.

There has been widespread worldwide condemnation of the ballot, and the United States on Wednesday announced sanctions against 13 current and former officials for corruption, undermining democracy, and participating in repression.

Maduro hit out at the United States punishment as "illegal, insolent and unprecedented". One of the prosecutors on the case who later sought asylum in the United States said he was ordered by the government to arrest Lopez despite a lack of evidence. "The government of the world?" he said in a speech.

Maduro accuses Washington of fomenting unrest against him, aided by the conservative opposition.

North Korea could launch reliable nuclear-capable missile by 2018
The U.S.is interested in a diplomatic solution, but North Korea does not trust the U.S.to keep its word due to its wartime worldview.

According to polling firm Datanalisis, about 70 per cent of Venezuelans are opposed to the Constituent Assembly.

For months, violence has spiraled out of control as the struggle for food and medicine grows.

In addition to the strike, the opposition has vowed to continue to stage protests, including a massive march scheduled to take place in Caracas on Friday.

Meanwhile, the opposition has called for a two-day nationwide strike starting on Wednesday.

Wednesday's decision by the Treasury Department is directed at 13 current and former Venezuelan government officials.

He warned that anybody elected to the Constituent Assembly could also face USA sanctions.

"The call we've made for the coming days will require each of you to ask yourselves what role you have to play in Venezuela's rescue", said Freddy Guevara, opposition leader and vice president of the National Assembly.

At the same time, Maduro's administration is being squeezed by the long-running economic crisis.

The oil export-dependent economy will shrink 12 percent this year, after a contraction of 18% last year, the International Monetary Fund said.

Inflation is projected to top 720 per cent.