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US Sanctions 13 Venezuelan Gov't Officials, Ready to Impose New Measures

02 August, 2017, 00:54 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • People look for groceries and goods at a supermarket in Caracas Venezuela

As Venezuela braces for a 48-hour general strike that starts Wednesday, authorities across the border in Colombia said they're prepared for a potential wave of migrants who might flee the crisis-riddled country in coming days. Members of the assembly will be elected in a national vote on Sunday.

But Maduro has said that rewriting the constitution is needed to restore order, apply justice and re-establish peace in Venezuela.

The sanctions are targeted at prominent individuals, including members of Venezuela's National Guard and police, as well as high-ranking government officials who have supported the constituent assembly, like Tibisay Lucena Ramírez, president of Venezuela's National Electoral Council.

The sanctions were handed down ahead of an election of a National Constituent Assembly, which could rewrite the nation's constitution and potentially dissolve state institutions.

"Now, the demand is through explicit and concrete threats that open up the possibility of cutting off some type of trade: the purchase of Venezuela's main export product, oil, which the United States buys and pays for in cash", said Tronco.

"The government fell into its own trap". The meeting at the house of Leopoldo Lopez, a prominent opposition leader recently granted house arrest after three years in jail, sparked rumors of a possible behind the scenes negotiation of Venezuela's crisis. "At the end of the day, they found themselves in an untenable position because it's causing cracks within the armed forces and because they may soon be hit with sanctions". The Treasury Department said approximately $11 billion went missing from the oil company between 2004 and 2014, according to a report by a Venezuelan congressional commission.

Slapping economic sanctions on Venezuela, as the United States has threatened to do, would create more problems than solving them, Mexican political observer Jose del Tronco said.

On Monday, Maduro accused the United States of plotting "regime change" in Caracas, after CIA Director Mike Pompeo made a comment about discussing "transition" in Venezuela with the authorities in Mexico and Colombia.

Street demonstrations have continued unabated for months, with more than 100 deaths attributed to the unrest.

The opposition, which staged an unofficial referendum in which a third of the electorate rejected Maduro's plan, is fighting that effort, and has called a boycott of the vote.

"Anyone who decides to join the National Constituent Assembly should know that their role in undermining democratic processes and institutions in Venezuela could expose them to U.S. sanctions", the official stated.

Soldiers were shown in the photographs shaking hands with a superior, who handed them a package that included toilet paper, toothpaste, and sanitary wipes.

The strike comes after months of protests, which have left almost 100 people dead and hundreds more injured. "Therefore, our only interest regarding the current situation that Venezuela is going through [is] a solution and a negotiated and peaceful exit to the current circumstances", the Colombian Foreign Relations Ministry said.

"I participate in the strike as a protest to the government's initiative, and as a protest against the very poor conditions of life that the majority is experimenting", opposition supporter Amaranta Sofia told Al Jazeera.

It also condemned former president Barack Obama for extending his 2015 decree designating Venezuela an "extraordinary threat to USA national security" before leaving office in January.



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