US hits Venezuelan president with sanctions

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro celebrates the results of the election of a © AFP RONALDO SCHEMIDTVenezuelan President Nicolas Maduro celebrates the results of the election of a Constituent Assembly that the country’s attorney general denounces as an illegitimate expression of ‘dictatorial ambition.’

The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated Venezuelan President Nicolas for sanctions on Monday, one day after he oversaw a highly contested vote for an constitutional assembly that critics charged with expand the government’s power while disempowering Venezuelans.

The US government threatened to impose sanctions on the Venezuelan government over the vote in the days beforehand, with White House officials saying such measures could extent to Venezuela’s oil industry.

“Yesterday’s illegitimate elections confirm that Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a statement on Monday. “By sanctioning Maduro, the United States makes clear our opposition to the policies of his regime and our support for the people of Venezuela who seek to return their country to a full and prosperous democracy.”

The Sunday vote was marked by violence, with at least 10 people, including members of security forces, being killing in confrontations around the country.

Venezuela’s electoral authority has said more than 8 million people turned out to the vote, though the opposition has said the real turnout was about one-quarter of that. Most estimates have put turnout between 2 and 4 million people.

The 545-member constituent assembly elected on Sunday will be seated within 72 hours, the Venezuelan government has said.

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