Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

US slaps sanctions on Venezuela Supreme Court judges

US slaps sanctions on Venezuela Supreme Court judges

The Trump administration is set to impose new sanctions on members of the Venezuelan Supreme Court for stripping the opposition-led congress of all power earlier this year. His death means the number killed in almost two months of protests and street clashes is likely to surpass that seen in the country's last political upheaval in 2014, when 43 people died during three months of demonstrations against the socialist government.

"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.

US President Donald Trump has called the situation in Venezuela "a mess" and his aides have threatened tougher measures against Caracas. "Because right now what's happening is really a disgrace to humanity", Mr. Trump said after meeting at the White House with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

Venezuela's Supreme Court has always been filled with government loyalists, some of dubious legal qualifications.

Haley said "peaceful protesters have been injured, arrested and even killed by their own government".

In a separate Russian-Venezuelan development, Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin said on Thursday that the Russian oil giant received a stake in Citgo, the US refining and marketing unit of embattled Venezuelan state company PDVSA, as collateral when the Russian company made pre-payment to the Venezuelan group for oil supplies.

The announcement followed a series of rulings since mid-2016 in which the court usurped the National Assembly's powers in support of Maduro.

The revolutionary government has significantly eroded the political and economic hegemony the USA had over Venezuelan oil, which holds one of the largest petroleum reserves in the world.

Venezuelans have organized large protests against the government nationwide since the Supreme Court, controlled by Maduro's socialist party, attempted to nullify the existence of the National Assembly and name itself the federal legislative body.

Uruguay's Ambassador Elbio Rosselli, who holds the council presidency this month, said the Organization of American States (OAS) and other regional bodies were best-placed to help address the crisis. 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.

The chaotic nationwide protests this year began after the Supreme Court ruled to limit the power of the National Assembly and later reversed their decision due to national and global pressure.

"We are the new Jews of the 21st century that Hitler pursued", Maduro said during the cabinet meeting. The state prosecutor's office confirmed his death, which pushed the death toll in six weeks of unrest to at least 43.

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