March 22, 2018

USA sanctions Venezuelan president, calls him a 'dictator'

01 August 2017, 11:50 | Christie Tate

USA sanctions Venezuelan president, calls him a 'dictator'

USA sanctions Venezuelan president, calls him a 'dictator'

Venezuelan security forces re-arrested Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma, key opposition leaders placed on house arrest, during early Tuesday raids, their wives said.

Tintori also posted video that she says shows her husband being taken away in a vehicle marked "SEBIN", an abbreviation for the Venezuelan intelligence service. "Maduro is responsible if anything happens", Lopez's wife, Lilian Tintori, said over social media early Tuesday.

"I know that the USA doesn't want to take a draconian approach because there would be economic and political implications", said Siobhan Morden, head of Latin America fixed-income strategy at Nomura Securities International.

Ledezma's daughter also posted a video which reportedly shows her father being detained by government officials.

Antonio Ledezma was granted house arrest in 2015 after being imprisoned on charges of leading a coup against Maduro.

The US Treasury Department has announced that it is sanctioning Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, describing the Constituent Assembly elections held in the country on Sunday as "illegitimate".

Colombia, Mexico, Peru and other nations joined the U.S. in saying they did not recognize the results of Sunday's election, which appointed a new Constituent Assembly superseding Venezuela's legislative body, the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

"If my jailing serves to awaken a people, serves to awaken Venezuela ... then it will be well worth the infamous imprisonment imposed upon me directly, with cowardice", he shouted through a megaphone from atop a statue of 19th century Cuban independence hero Jose Marti in a Caracas plaza. "I don't listen to orders from the empire, not now or ever ..."

Russia Closes US Properties, Cuts Embassy Staff in Retaliation for Sanctions
But the legislation cleared both the House and Senate by wide margins, indicating any presidential veto would be overridden . But a day later, Sanders walked back her statement , saying the president was still "looking over" the bill .

The most severe measures would bar USA imports of Venezuelan crude or prevent state oil giant Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., or PDVSA, from transacting in US dollars.

It is unclear whether Maduro actually has any financial interests in the United States to penalise, making sanctions a largely symbolic gesture of Washington's disapproval. "The threats and sanctions of the empire don't intimidate me for a moment", Maduro said on national television. It could undermine Maduro's government, raise U.S. gas prices and deepen the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, a country that heavily depends on oil to survive.

Investors and analysts are increasingly anxious about whether Venezuela will be able to make a total $725 million in debt payments over the coming month amid the country's political and humanitarian crisis.

Further protests were called for Monday and beyond, stoking fears that the death toll of 120 people killed in four months of protests against Maduro could rise further.

For all his bluster, Maduro has much to lose if the United States strikes back with more sanctions.

"By designating Maduro himself, he joins a very exclusive club - including Mr. Mugabe, Bashar al-Assad, and Kim Jong-un in terms of the brutal repression of his people and, in this case, the abrogation of the constitution with the constitution - with the constituent assembly", McMaster said.

The pro-Maduro assembly will have the power to rewrite Venezuela's Constitution.

According to the authorities, more than eight million voters, or 41.5 per cent of the electorate participated in the election of the constituent Assembly.

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