US slaps curbs on Venezuela regime

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - World -

THE regime of Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro was hit by US sanc­tions and a 48-hour op­po­si­tion-led na­tion­wide strike on Wed­nes­day, both aimed at thwart­ing his con­tro­ver­sial plans to elect a new body to re­write the con­sti­tu­tion.

The blood­shed in the oil-rich but cri­sis-hit coun­try re­sumed when a 30-year-old man died in a protest held dur­ing the strike, adding to a na­tion­wide death toll of more than 100 since April.

In Wash­ing­ton, the US Trea­sury un­veiled a list of 13 cur­rent and for­mer of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing the in­te­rior min­is­ter, se­nior mil­i­tary brass, the pres­i­dent of the elec­toral coun­cil, and the fi­nance chief of state oil com­pany PDVSA, whose US as­sets would be frozen.

The an­nounce­ment came as Venezuela’s op­po­si­tion launched its na­tion­wide stop­page as part of a cam­paign to halt Sunday’s vote and, more broadly, force Maduro from of­fice through early elec­tions.

The vote, which Maduro has vowed will go ahead as planned, is to choose the 545 mem­bers of a “Con­stituent Assem­bly” to ri­val the op­po­si­tion-held Na­tional Assem­bly and to redo the con­sti­tu­tion.

But in a coun­try suf­fer­ing from wide­spread short­ages of ba­sic goods and soar­ing in­fla­tion, pro­test­ers are show­ing their dis­con­tent with Maduro’s lead­er­ship.

The left-wing Maduro has nev­er­the­less re­mained de­fi­ant, say­ing the US sanc­tions made him more de­ter­mined than ever to forge on with his plan.

The Venezue­lan mil­i­tary has de­clared its loy­alty to him.

Maduro branded US sanc­tions as “in­so­lent,” as pres­sure piled up on him abroad and at home.

“Who do these im­pe­ri­al­ists in the United States think they are? The gov­ern­ment of the world?” he said in a speech.

Some 70 per­cent of Venezue­lans are op­posed to the Con­stituent Assem­bly, ac­cord­ing to polling firm Datanal­i­sis.

The hard­en­ing po­lit­i­cal strug­gle has deep­ened fears that months of street vi­o­lence could worsen.

The op­po­si­tion has planned an­other ma­jor demon­stra­tion in the cap­i­tal to­day. – AFP

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