Venezuela leader’s foes levy new sanctions and fresh strike
CARACAS, VENEZUELA — Opponents of President Nicolas Maduro at home and abroad tried again Wednesday to pressure the socialist leader into halting his plans to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution though there was no public sign their efforts were working.
The Trump administration announced sanctions on 13 current and former members of Maduro’s administration, freezing their U.S. assets and barring Americans from doing business with them. The U.S. also joined with a dozen other regional governments in urging Maduro to suspend Sunday’s election of a national assembly for rewriting the charter.
Those moves came as a coalition of Venezuelan opposition groups organized a second national strike in a week. Highways were mostly empty and businesses shuttered across the country as millions of people observed the 48-hour strike and activists threw up roadblocks in many neighbourhoods to keep others from getting to work.
By late afternoon, clashes between police and protesters erupted at some roadblocks in Caracas, and the chief prosecutor’s office reported at least one person killed. That increased the official count of dead in nearly four months of demonstrations to at least 98.
Three days of protests are planned leading up to Sunday’s vote, starting with the strike and culminating Friday with a demonstration billed as a “takeover of Caracas.”
The Trump administration has said it is considering further sanctions, including restrictions on Venezuelan oil imports, a potentially devastating blow to Venezuela’s economy.
A top Cuban official said his country had no intention of trying to mediate a solution to the crisis, rejecting the idea of what he called “foreign meddling” and voicing full support for Maduro, a key ideological and economic ally.