Plans new package of Venezuela sanctions soon

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - The Trump administration plans to impose new sanctions on Venezuelan officials for alleged human rights violations as it grows more concerned about the crackdown on anti-government protesters, a congressional aide and a US official said.

"When you look at the oil reserves that they have, when you look at the potential wealth that Venezuela has, you sort of have to wonder, why is that happening?"

The new administration has sought to forge a united front with Latin American countries to pressure the Venezuela government.

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - The U.S. imposed a new round of sanctions on high-level Venezuelan officials, this time targeting eight Supreme Court judges that Washington accused of damaging their nation's democracy by steadily stripping the opposition-controlled congress of any authority.

In a press briefing earlier in the day, President Trump called the situation in Venezuela "a very, very frightful problem".

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He added: "And we will do whatever is necessary and we will work together to do whatever is necessary to help with fixing that".

Maduro's government accuses them of seeking a violent coup and says numerous protesters are no more than "terrorists". Maikel Moreno, the president of Venezuela's Supreme Court, and among those sanctioned by the US government, said Friday that Trump's executive order was an attempt to impose its authority over Venezuela's institutions and compromise the judicial branch's independence.

Venezuelan opposition activists clash with the riot police during a rally against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, on May 18, 2017.

Almost two months of street protests throughout Venezuela have left at least 46 people dead.

Today's actions freeze any assets they may have in the US, bar any American citizens from doing business with them, bar them from entering the USA and add their names to an official Office of Foreign Assets Control list that discourages foreign banks from doing business with them as well. In February, the United States blacklisted Venezuela n Vice President Tareck El Aissami for alleged links to drug trafficking. 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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U.S. President Donald Trump and his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos discussed Venezuela's "deteriorating situation" at a White House meeting on Thursday.

There was an worldwide outcry against the court 's de facto annulment of the National Assembly, which the opposition won in late 2015 during an unprecedented economic and social crisis.

Venezuela 's latest wave of anti-government unrest, which has left at least 45 people dead in the last six weeks, began with the Supreme Court, packed with Maduro supporters, assuming the authorities of the opposition-led Congress in late March. On Thursday, several thousand demonstrators once again collapsed Caracas and other cities in protests that ended in clashes with security forces firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

Mobs looted shops and fought security forces overnight in Venezuela's restive western region, where three soldiers were being charged on Thursday with the fatal shooting of a man who was buying diapers for his baby, witnesses said.

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