New sanctions on Venezuela as 48-hour strike begins

New sanctions on Venezuela as 48-hour strike begins

New sanctions on Venezuela as 48-hour strike begins

The president also denounced the new sanctions placed by the U.S. The U.S. government on Wednesday announced it is imposing sanctions against 13 current or former Venezuelan officials, including people from the government, military and state oil company.

Maduro accuses the U.S. of fomenting the unrest against him and his government, with the help of the conservative opposition. Its No. 1 demand is conventional elections, including for the presidency, to remove Maduro. The World Bank stated that Venezuela is already facing major economic challenges and the International Monetary Fund found that gross domestic product there has declined by about 25 percent over the last three years.

"We don't recognize any sanction", he said.

Embattled president Nicolás Maduro has called Sunday's election to choose members for a body that will be tasked with rewriting the constitution his own populist Chavista movement drafted in 1999 under the auspices of his deceased predecessor and mentor, Hugo Chávez. All of this happening, as violent clashes break out at the start of a 48-hour nationwide strike. Those named in the decree, according ot the Treasury Department, are current or former officials in agencies "associated with the elections or the undermining of democracy", including the "government's rampant violence against opposition protesters" and general corruption. "Nevertheless, we as part of the hemispheric community of nations can not stand by as human rights are trampled and citizens are arrested and attacked for expressing their opinions".

The Table of the unity democratic (MUD), the opposition coalition has already called a 24-hour general strike last week, has been organizing since nearly four months of protests nearly daily against Maduro, which he claims the starting. Their goal: For Maduro to abandon his plans for a new constitution, opposition leaders said at a news conference.

Among those hit by USA sanctions were Tibisay Lucena, the president of the national elections council; Simon Zerpa, the vice president of the state oil company PDVSA; and prominent former ministers Iris Varela and Elias Jaua.

"It's the only way to show we are not with Maduro".

Last week, President Donald Trump vowed "strong and swift economic actions" if Maduro held the poll, due on Sunday, July 30.

The talks have not yielded any concrete results, they said, adding that Zapatero was scheduled to speak with Maduro on Tuesday evening.

He has warned the Organization of American States not to intervene in Venezuela, saying that would surely bring on civil war.

Colombian airline Avianca Holdings SA said on Thursday it will suspend flights to and from Venezuela immediately, instead of on a previously announced date of August 16, due to operational and security difficulties. It cited security concerns for the move.

Thousands of Venezuelans loaded with heavy bags have crossed the border into Colombia this week, fleeing the unrest.

"The elections are on Sunday, and we really don't know what will happen", Maria de los Angeles Pichardo, who left with her husband and son, told AFP news agency.

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