Washington slaps new sanctions on Venezuela
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.