USA vows further action against Venezuela's 'bad actors' barring changes

Posted May 20, 2017

18 de mayo de 2017, 15:41Caracas, May 18 (Prensa Latina) Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have today held a telephone conversation in which they agreed to strengthen the strategic relationship between both nations. The protest in Caracas.

Venezuela's U.N. envoy Rafael Ramirez in turn accused the United States of seeking to topple the Maduro government. The protest in Caracas comes after a tumultuous 24 hour.

Venezuela is still hoping that Barbados will support of the embattled Nicolas Maduro administration in an ongoing fight with the Organization of American States (OAS), despite a vote last month by Bridgetown against the South American nation. The protest in Caracas come.

In February, Vice President Tareck El Aissami became the the highest-ranking Venezuelan hit by US sanctions under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act for alleged ties to drug trafficking and one of the most-senior government leaders of any country listed by the Treasury Department under its various sanctions authorities.

Anti-government street mobilizations that began after the nation's Supreme Court issued a ruling stripping congress of its last powers in late March are continuing on a near-daily basis.

The ruling was later partially reversed amid a backlash of worldwide criticism, but it sparked a protest movement that has continued for almost two months and on Thursday claimed another victim, bringing the death toll to 45. The US treasury has put eight supreme court members on a financial blacklist.

"By imposing these targeted sanctions, the United States is supporting the Venezuela n people in their efforts to protect and advance democratic governance in their country", he said.

All of those targeted will have their assets frozen within USA jurisdiction, and American citizens will be barred from doing business with them, the Treasury Department said. In February, the USA ordered sanctions against Vice President Tareck El Aissami, accusing him of playing a major role in worldwide drug trafficking.

In a press briefing earlier in the day, President Trump called the situation in Venezuela "a very, very awful problem".

Despite its vast oil reserves, Venezuela is suffering chronic shortages of food, medicine and other basic supplies. How is that possible?

Protesters are demanding elections to kick out the socialist government which they accuse of wrecking the economy and turning Venezuela into a dictatorship. "I will not be able to attend the meeting with the (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights", Capriles said in a video posted online. Maduro has responded by sending armed forces to crack down on protesters. Venezuela's opposition party controls a majority of the Assembly but has been slowly weakened by Maduro since they won elections in 2015.

The sanctions package, which could be announced as early as Thursday, is expected to designate those unnamed officials for punitive measures to be enforced by the US Treasury Department, the sources told Reuters. Among them were a number of cases in which members of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) beat the prisoners severely using aluminum bats and individuals who said they had their hair cut off.

There was no immediate comment from the White House. Protests against the Maduro government have escalated and there have been calls for Maduro to step down.

Among those hit with sanctions was Maikel Moreno, a Maduro ally who became president of the 32-judge court in February.

Security forces fired tear gas at stone-throwing gangs, and crowds smashed their way into shops and offices in San Cristobal, the state capital, and elsewhere.

The unrest has left 43 people dead since April 1, prosecutors say.

A week before that, the United States had barred Venezuela's vice president, Tareck El Aissami, from entering the US, accusing him of playing a major role in worldwide drug trafficking.