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Trump administration sanctions Venezuela Supreme Court

19 May 2017

The sanctions add eight members of Venezuela's Supreme Court - including its president, Maikel Moreno - to the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control list, which is reserved for country's and individuals accused of crimes such as drugs and weapons trafficking, as well as perceived threats national security.

"The Venezuelan people are suffering from a collapsing economy brought about by their government's mismanagement and corruption", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

"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. Journalist Virginia Lopez joins CBSN from Caracas, Venezue...

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 U.S. Treasury Department, the sources told Reuters. Earlier Thursday, the USA leader expressed dismay about Venezuela's troubles, asking aloud how a nation holding the world's largest oil reserves could be stricken by so much poverty and turmoil.

Word of the new sanctions came as President Donald Trump expressed dismay at how once-prospero us Venezuela was now mired in poverty, saying "it's been unbelievably poorly run". One was the approval of Maduro's budget and his appointment of two government sympathizers to the National Electoral Council, decisions that are supposed to require National Assembly approval.

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Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have participated in near-daily anti-government street demonstrations since the Supreme Court's ruling in late March. The protests typically end with state security forces launching tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators, some of whom fire back with rocks and gasoline bombs.

Anti-government protesters march to the Interior Ministry in Caracas on Wednesday.

Relations between the USA and the Venezuelan government have been chilly for years.

With the latest sanctions, the U.S. government said the court members were being targeted because they had "usurped the authority of Venezuela's democratically elected legislature".

Moreno, while not directly involved in those decisions, has defended them and from the bench also upheld a almost 14-year sentence for opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez a day after Trump called for his release at a White House meeting with Lopez's wife.

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The new sanctions come as Maduro is facing increasing pressure at home and overseas to hold elections.

In a statement Thursday, Rubio said that the sanctions make it clear to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro "and his thugs that their actions are not going to go unpunished". It was also hours after Venezuelan authorities prevented a known politician from traveling to NY for a meeting at the United Nations to discuss the crisis.

A protester demonstrates against the Venezuelan government outside the Organization of American States during a special meeting in April. A senior official in Washington said further action would be taken if there was no improvement in Venezuela following weeks of worsening instability.

Venezuela has been in the throes of violent protests for a month and half as millions of citizens have taken to the streets, denouncing what they say is President Nicolas Maduro's push toward dictatorship.

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Trump administration sanctions Venezuela Supreme Court