United States imposes sanctions on Venezuelan supreme court justices

Elias Hubbard
May 19, 2017

The threat of new sanctions comes as Venezuela's socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, is facing increasing global pressure to hold elections.

Speaking in Washington alongside visiting President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, Venezuela 's neighbor, Trump called the humanitarian situation "a disgrace to humanity" and promised to help fix it, but he offered no new US approach.

The opposition has accused the government of violently repressing protests by Venezuelans demanding early elections to remove Maduro from power.

He said the USA supports the Venezuelan opposition and "that's why this meeting instead of helping solving the problem - it will really be an obstacle".

"Members of the country's Supreme Court of Justice have exacerbated the situation by consistently interfering with the legislative branch's authority", he said.

The U.S. move marks the second round of sanctions the Trump administration has imposed on high-level Venezuelan officials since taking office.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is praising the Trump administration for imposing sanctions on eight members of Venezuela's Supreme Court.

A demonstrator and boy wearing a helmet and holding a shield, walk on a blocked highway as a barricade burns in the background, during a national sit-in against President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, May 15, 2017. "It's as if we are victims of a curse", said Julio Borges, president of Venezuela's National Assembly.

"When you look at the oil reserves that they have, when you look at the potential wealth that Venezuela has, you sort of have to wonder why is that happening, how is that possible?" said Trump.

Maduro's government accuses them of seeking a violent coup and says numerous protesters are no more than "terrorists".

Among those hit with sanctions was Maikel Moreno, a Maduro ally who became president of the 32-judge court in February. Three years ago, three months of anti-government demonstrations resulted in 43 people killed.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned on Wednesday that if the situation was left to escalate it could lead to a major global crisis like in Syria.

Uruguay's Ambassador Elbio Rosselli, who holds the council presidency this month, said the Organization of American States (OAS) and other regional bodies were best-placed to help address the crisis.

Maduro has vowed to resolve his nation's crisis by convoking a special assembly to rewrite Venezuela's constitution.

"We are the new Jews of the 21st century that Hitler pursued", Maduro said during the cabinet meeting.

"It is not tolerable that these individuals, after they destroyed the country, and are responsible for the chaos that Venezuela is experiencing, seek to exonerate themselves", he said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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