United States sanctions Venezuelan president, calls him a 'dictator'

Violet Powell
August 2, 2017

"Maduro is responsible if something happens", she wrote on Twitter.

"They just took Leopoldo away". "We don't know where he is or where they're taking him".

Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, an opposition politician and who was also under house arrest, was reportedly taken back into detention early Tuesday, according to Alianza Bravo Pueblo (Fearless People's Alliance) deputy, Richard Blanco.

Two of Venezuela's leading opposition figures, who were detained a day after a controversial constitutional vote, have been sent to jail on the orders of the country's top court.

Maduro claims this is the only way to restore stability in the face of an "economic war" being waged by the U.S. and its allies, who want to secure control of Venezuela's vast oil resources.

Venezuela's benchmark sovereign bond maturing 2038 fell nearly one cent, though it stayed off 13-month lows hit on Friday, while dollar bonds issued by state oil firm PDVSA fell across the curve, Thomson Reuters data showed. Washington called on the Venezuelan president to release political prisoners from the opposition, and the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, called him a "dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people".

Maduro lashed out at the move, saying it smacked of American imperialism.

"It may mean more targeted sanctions at individuals".

"With the current events and the repression we have seen, the killings, and moving forward with the national constituent assembly, I think those expectations have vanished", Diego Moya-Ocampos, a senior analyst for the Americas at IHS Markit, told Newsweek on Monday, referring to a vote Maduro called on Sunday to elect a constituent assembly that is expected to change the country's constitution and balance of power. In 1973, Chileans elected socialist Salvador Allende, only to see him toppled by a USA -backed coup.

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Venezuela has been riven by unrest since the country's Supreme Court, which is packed with Maduro supporters, attempted to dissolve the legislature in late March - and quickly reversed itself just days later after worldwide backlash.

And Britain's Foreign Minister Boris Johnson warned that Venezuela "stands on the brink of disaster".

Maduro said he had received congratulations from the governments of Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua, among others.

Only recently Maduro had indicated he was hoping for a detente with the United States, with the oil company Citgo, which is owned by Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA donating US$500,000 to Trump's inauguration celebration in January.

Before, Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami received sanctions for supporting drug dealers.

Up to today, the results were not announced, only the voter turnout of 41,5%, according to the National Electoral Committee of Venezuela.

Surveys by polling firm Datanalisis showed more than 70 percent of Venezuelans opposed the new assembly. Many people, many protesters felt a little bit despair that after four months of street actions, still the president made a decision to go on with this initiative. Among those killed were two teens and a Venezuelan soldier. The constituyente, as it is known, could set the stage for the Maduro government to totally and indefinitely consolidate its power, criminalize the opposition without limits, and usher in a new and even darker phase in Venezuela's crisis.

The ANC, which many expect to be stacked with Maduro supporters, would be able to rewrite the country's constitution.

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