Wash­ing­ton slaps new sanc­tions on Venezuela

The Weekend Australian - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON: The US has slapped more sanc­tions on Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro’s govern­ment, tar­get­ing 10 of­fi­cials it said engaged in elec­tion ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties to per­pet­u­ate what Wash­ing­ton called a dic­ta­to­rial regime.

The new sanc­tions come as EU member states pre­pare to im­pose an arms em­bargo on Venezuela, whose left­ist govern­ment has sought to tighten its grip on power amid a pro­longed eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal cri­sis that has led to deadly street clashes.

Things are so dire in oil-rich Venezuela that peo­ple line up to buy not just food and medicine but ba­sics like soap and toi­let pa­per.

Mr Maduro calls the cri­sis a plot con­trived by con­ser­va­tive busi­ness­peo­ple backed by the govern­ment of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

The new sanc­tions came in re- sponse to state elec­tions on Oc­to­ber 15 in which pro-Maduro can­di­dates un­ex­pect­edly won 18 of 23 gu­ber­na­to­rial seats.

The US Trea­sury Depart­ment said ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties “strongly sug­gest fraud” was used to elect Maduro can­di­dates.

For ex­am­ple, one of the peo­ple sanc­tioned, Na­tional Elec­toral Coun­cil vice-pres­i­dent San­dra Obli­tas Ruzza, an­nounced the re­lo­ca­tion of polling sta­tions days be­fore the vot­ing — lead­ing peo­ple to go to the wrong places to vote.

The sanc­tions named govern­ment min­is­ters, mem­bers of Venezuela’s Na­tional Elec­toral Coun­cil and the new, all-pow­er­ful Con­stituent Assem­bly. The assem­bly, com­prised of Maduro loy­al­ists, has re­placed congress, even tak­ing over its build­ing, cham­ber and seats, and has the power to re­write laws as it sees fit.

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