USA sanctions Venezuelan officials amid anti-Maduro protests

Trevor Jackson
July 28, 2017

A new USA sanctions announcement has coincided with a two-day strike and a major protest in Venezuela, Deutsche Welle reports.

On 21 July, 13 new supreme judges and 20 deputies were sworn in to the opposition-controlled parliament, although other court members, loyal to Maduro, declared the election void.

Their goal: For Maduro to abandon his plans for a new constitution, opposition leaders said at a news conference.

Protests during the stoppage have left three people dead - two men, aged 30 and 23, in the western province of Merida, and a 14-year-old boy in an eastern Caracas slum, according to prosecutors.

President Nicolas Maduro's adversaries launched a two-day national strike on Wednesday in a final push to pressure him into abandoning a weekend election for a super-congress they say will institutionalize autocracy in Venezuela, reports Reuters. At least 98 people have died in the four months of demonstrations, according to the AP.

Venezuela's opposition, bolstered by an unofficial vote on July 16 that saw a third of the electorate reject Maduro's plan, has called for a boycott of Sunday's vote.

Machado Ventura adds that it is up to the Venezuelan people and Maduro's government to overcome their challenges "without foreign meddling in their internal affairs".

Over the past couple of years the escalating crises in what once was the richest South American country has led to steep deterioration of public health with infectious diseases such as malaria creeping back.

Opposition-led protests aimed at toppling the Bolivarian government began in early April and in addition to over 100 killed, some 1,200 have been injured.

The ultimate goal of that blockade is to trigger a default of Venezuela's economy, Maduro argued, adding that the U.S. attempted to do the same thing in 2015 and 2016, with no success.

The Protesters' motivation was boosted at the beginning of May when Maduro announced he would call up a constituent assembly to rewrite the country's constitution.

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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.

He called the sanctions "illegal, insolent, and unprecedented".

"Who do these imperialists in the United States think they are?"

"The government has to stop its plan for a constituent assembly", Venezuela's Union leader Aldo Torres said.

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.

"We need to paralyze the whole country", said Flor Lanz, 68, standing with a group of women blocking the entrance to a freeway in upscale east Caracas with rope and iron sheets.

The U.S. sanctions also target the head of Venezuela's National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, and former vice president Elias Jaua, who is leading the presidential commissions organising Sunday's vote.

Inflation is projected to top 720%. The government-run enterprises kept open.

Opposition leaders won a majority of seats in Venezuela's National Assembly in midterm elections in December 2015. The National Constituent Assembly would merely make it official.

Meanwhile, thousands of Venezuelans have fled the unrest this week, crossing the border into Colombia laden with heavy bags.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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