U.S. readies Venezuela sanctions, Maduro defies threat

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Trump administration is preparing sanctions against several Venezuelan government officials, US officials said on Tuesday to pressure President Nicolas Maduro to cancel plans for a controversial congress. Enemy say they would consolidate the dictatorship.

Punitive measures could come against Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López and Socialist Party No. 2 Diosdado Cabello for alleged human rights violations, said US officials told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

His comments followed the wishes of President Donald Trump on Monday to take “strong and rapid economic actions” if Maduro continued the new body would have the power to rewrite the Venezuelan Constitution and replace all institutions.

“All options are on the table,” including possible measures. Against Venezuela’s vital oil industry, such as a ban on US crude imports, a top-level administration Trump told reporters during a conference call.

Washington plans to suppress the July 30 vote of a constituent assembly that considers the Maduro effort to create a “complete dictatorship,” said the head of the administration.

Rising American rhetoric against the ruling Venezuelan Socialist Party Maduro angry, but also gave a nationalistic war cry.

The “imperialism” that still flows resonates for many in a region marked by Washington’s support of the blows during the Cold War.

“No one gives orders to Venezuela, no foreign government,” Maduro told a State Security Council specially convened to analyze the threats from the United States. “Donald Trump is not the boss of Venezuela.”

Maduro has promised that the July 30 elections would continue despite a boycott and growing demonstrations of the Venezuelan opposition supported by the majority and a growing outside condemnation of the European Union to the main countries of Latin America.

“The Constituent Assembly must be abandoned … global demand,” said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. In his speech, Maduro condemned and Brazilian President Michel Temer as “lackeys” of Washington.

Possible penalties Trump directors over Venezuelan officials would freeze their assets in the United States and prohibit anyone in the United States from doing business with them.

Individual sanctions could come in a matter of days, if not delayed before the vote on July 30, but the final decision has not been adopted, and measures could still be put on hold, a US official told Reuters.

The sanctions could otherwise bankrupt the government of Maduro and aggravate the serious food shortage in the oil-affected country affected by the crisis. Hitting the energy sector in Venezuela could also raise the price of domestic gasoline in the United States.

Venezuela is the third largest foreign oil supplier to the United States, after Canada and Saudi Arabia, exporting about 780,000 barrels per day of crude oil.

Surveys show that the Socialists would be in conventional elections in Venezuela. Most people oppose the Constituent Assembly, which according to critics is an electoral farce that was distorted to give a Mature majority.

He insists that this is the only way to achieve peace after months of unrest against the government that has killed 100 people and paralyzed the economy.

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