Venezuela opposition leader blocked from traveling to UN

The executive order issued Thursday marked the second time the US has sanctioned leaders of Venezuela's socialist government since Donald Trump became president this year.

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.

Since at least 2009 the U.S. Department of State has budgeted at least US$49 million in total to support right-wing opposition forces in Venezuela who are now in their seventh week of violent protests to oust democratically-elected President Nicolas Maduro.

"This isn't getting better, it's getting worse, and what we are trying to say is the worldwide community needs to say "respect the human rights of your people" or this is going to go in the direction we've seen so many others go", US Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters following Security Council talks.

Clashes erupted across the country in April 1 during protests in anger at Maduro's handling of an economic and political crisis.

Protests against the Maduro government have escalated and there have been calls for Maduro to step down.

The ruling was later partially reversed amidinternational criticism, but it sparked a protest movement that has continued for almost two months and left more than 40 people dead.

Speaking alongside Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Thursday, Trump expressed dismay at Venezuela's crisis, asking how a country holding the nation's largest oil reserves could be stricken by so much poverty and turmoil.

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

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox labeled Venezuelan President Maduro's call for a Constitutional Assembly a strategy to gain time (Flickr).

"What they want is for me not to go to the United Nations". In February, the target was Vice President Tareck El Aissami, whom US officials accuse of being involved in worldwide drug trafficking. "Members of the country's Supreme Court of J us tice have exacerbated the situation by consistently interfering with the legislative branch's authority", U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Haley said the meeting was aimed at conflict prevention, not council action, and sought to put light on what is happening in Venezuela.

Venezuela said it was sending 2,000 soldiers on Wednesday to a border state that is a hotspot of anti-government radicalism after looting that killed a 15-year-old in the latest unrest roiling the nation.

"Venezuela is the most important theme of the Organization of American States, Mercosur and Union of South American Nations". President Maduro has reiterated that elections will be held on schedule in 2018, but the opposition has demanded his immediate removal, seeking foreign intervention in its destabilization campaign.

  • Anthony Vega