US Treasury Department Imposes Sanctions on Venezuelan Supreme Court

Frederick Owens
May 19, 2017

Ramirez stressed that Venezuela is not on the Security Council agenda and said many council members "disagree with the U.S." and back his government's position that it shouldn't be there.

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

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez decried the US sanctions on Twitter as "outrageous and unacceptable".

Uruguay's United Nations ambassador Elbio Rosselli, president of the Security Council for May, said that at this point Uruguay believed the Venezuelan crisis should be handled within the region.

There was swift and widespread worldwide condemnation of the de facto annulment of the National Assembly, which the opposition won in late 2015 during an unprecedented economic and social crisis that has seen Maduro's popularity plummet, and the decision was later partially reversed.

The ruling was later partially reversed amid a backlash of global criticism, but it sparked a protest movement that has continued for almost two months and on Thursday claimed another victim, bringing the death toll to 45.

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.

"By imposing targeted sanctions, the United States is supporting the Venezuelan people in their efforts to protect and advance democratic governance in their country".

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The Treasury cited recent Supreme Court rulings that have allowed Maduro to rule by executive decree, exempted the government from submitting its budget to the legislature, and taken away from the legislature the power to appoint the National Electoral Council.

US President Donald Trump on Thursday called the situation in Venezuela a "disgrace to humanity" and said the deadly political crisis was possibly the worst of its kind in decades.

Trump's comments came at a news conference following his meeting at the White House with Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos where the two leaders discussed the "deteriorating situation in Venezuela".

Senator Ted Cruz was among the first US lawmakers to react to news of the sanctions. But sanctions so far have stopped short of hitting the oil sector in Venezuela, which is a major US oil supplier.

"We've made it clear to Maduro and his thugs that their actions are not going to go unpunished", Republican Sen.

Uruguay's United Nations ambassador, Elbio Rosselli, this month's council president, said his government favors a regional approach and is working with many other countries to help the political factions in Venezuela resolve the crisis.

They added that the administration expects to take further actions in Venezuela, but declined to offer any details. In February, the administration ordered sanctions against Vice President Tareck El Aissami, accusing him of playing a major role in worldwide drug trafficking.

The officials have denied the charges and called them a pretext as part of an effort to topple Maduro's government.

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