US sanctions Venezuelan officials involved in assembly takeover

Agence France-Presse . Washington | Published: 23:59, Jan 14,2020

 
 

The US government slapped sanctions Monday on Venezuelan officials who tried to take over the National Assembly in a bid to block opposition leader Juan Guaido from taking up his role as speaker.

US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the financial penalties on seven officials in Caracas who last week tried to block the elected representatives from holding a vote on new leadership.

Included on the target list was delegate Luis Parra who after being accused of corruption broke with Guaido, and on January 5 proclaimed himself the new leader of the National Assembly.

Three others on the list — Adolfo Superlano, Conrado Perez, and Jose Brito — also are under investigation by Guaido for corruption.

‘Treasury has designated seven corrupt National Assembly officials who, at the bidding of Maduro, attempted to block the democratic process in Venezuela,’ Mnuchin said in a statement.

‘These and other designated officials can have sanctions removed if they side with the people of Venezuela and Juan Guaido as their legitimate leader.’

It was just the latest in a series of sanctions Washington has imposed on Venezuelan officials to put pressure on the regime of Nicolas Maduro amid a worsening economic and humanitarian crisis in the South American nation.

The sanctions freeze any assets held in the US and block access to the American financial system — which can affect funds held in other countries by banks that do business in the United States.

Ultimately, Guaido was sworn in last week for another term as speaker of parliament after a tense stand-off with the armed forces who initially prevented him from entering Congress.

Guaido leads the opposition to Maduro, who is blamed for an acute economic crisis and accused of acting like a harsh leftist dictator. Guaido is recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela’s legitimate acting president.

Crisis-hit Venezuela has been in political turmoil since January 2018 when Guaido used his position as speaker to declare himself acting president in a direct challenge to the authority of Maduro.

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