Venezuela ac­cuses U.S. of sab­o­tag­ing elec­tion with new sanc­tions

Stabroek News Sunday - - REGIONAL NEWS -

CARA­CAS, (Reuters) - Venezuela yes­ter­day ac­cused the United States of us­ing new sanc­tions against its gov­ern­ment’s top of­fi­cials to sab­o­tage a con­tro­ver­sial pres­i­den­tial elec­tion to­day, which the coun­try’s op­po­si­tion says has been rigged.

The U.S. ramped up pressure on Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro’s gov­ern­ment on Fri­day, ac­cus­ing him of prof­it­ing from il­le­gal nar­cotics ship­ments and im­pos­ing sanc­tions against the No. 2 of­fi­cial in the rul­ing So­cial­ist Party, Dios­dado Ca­bello.

The United States has al­ready im­posed sanc­tions against Maduro for hu­man rights abuses and blamed him for Venezuela’s cur­rent eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal crises. But Fri­day marked the first time that Wash­ing­ton pub­licly linked Maduro to the drug trade.

In a state­ment, Maduro’s gov­ern­ment called the sanc­tions part of “a sys­tem­atic cam­paign of ag­gres­sion” by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and said they had no le­gal base.

“It’s not sur­pris­ing that on the eve of a new vote, when the Venezue­lan peo­ple will come out to de­fend their democ­racy against the im­pe­ri­al­ist ag­gres­sions that try and de­rail it, once again the U.S. regime tries to sab­o­tage the elec­tions,” it said.

The U.S. Trea­sury on Fri­day im­posed sanc­tions against Ca­bello, his wife, Mar­leny Jose­fina Con­tr­eras who heads the coun­try’s tourism in­sti­tute, and his brother, Jose David.

Maduro is ex­pected to­day to fend off a chal­lenge from op­po­si­tion can­di­date Henri Fal­con, who is break­ing the main­stream op­po­si­tion coali­tion’s boy­cott of the vote which it says is rigged to as­sure Maduro wins a sec­ond term.

The hard­line op­po­si­tion party Pop­u­lar Will yes­ter­day re­it­er­ated its call for Venezue­lans to boy­cott the elec­tion and de­scribed it as an “elec­toral sham that seeks to val­i­date the dic­ta­tor­ship in Venezuela and the world.”

Maduro in­sists the elec­tion will be free and fair, and ac­cuses the op­po­si­tion of re­fus­ing to par­tic­i­pate be­cause it knows it can­not win.

How­ever, his gov­ern­ment was forced to turn to ob­servers from al­lied coun­tries to mon­i­tor Sun­day’s vote. It had in­vited the United Na­tions and other in­ter­na­tional bod­ies to send ob­servers, but the UN be­lieves the con­di­tions do not ex­ist to guar­an­tee a demo­cratic process.

The United States, Canada, the Euro­pean Union and sev­eral Ni­co­las Maduro

coun­tries in Latin Amer­ica said they will not rec­og­nize the re­sults of the polls on the grounds that they are not trans­par­ent or fair.

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