US imposes sanctions on Venezuela Supreme Court
The U.S. on Thursday slapped new sanctions on eight members of Venezuela’s Supreme Court, accusing them of abusing power and damaging their nation’s democratic fabric as the Trump administration raises concerns that socialist President Nicolas Maduro is moving toward one-party, authoritarian rule, APA reports quoting the Washington Post.
Those blacklisted by the Treasury Department include Maikel Moreno, the president of the government-packed Supreme Court, as well as all seven justices who signed a ruling in late March stripping the opposition-controlled congress of its last remaining powers.
The ruling was later partially reversed amid a backlash of international criticism, but it sparked a protest movement that has continued for nearly two months and on Thursday claimed another victim, bringing the death toll to 45.
“The Venezuelan people are suffering from a collapsing economy brought about by their government’s mismanagement and corruption. Members of the country’s Supreme Court of Justice have exacerbated the situation by consistently interfering with the legislative branch’s authority,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said. “By imposing these targeted sanctions, the United States is supporting the Venezuelan people in their efforts to protect and advance democratic governance in their country.”
The action marked the second time the Trump administration has stripped high-level Venezuelan officials of their U.S. assets and banned Americans from any business dealings with them. In February, the U.S. ordered sanctions against Vice President Tareck El Aissami, accusing him of playing a major role in international drug trafficking.
Earlier Thursday, Trump expressed dismay about Venezuela’s troubles, asking aloud how a nation sitting atop the world’s largest oil reserves could be stricken by so much poverty and unrest.
“You sort of have to wonder: Why is that happening? How is that possible? Hopefully that will change and they can use those assets for the good. Because right now what’s happening is really a disgrace to humanity,” Trump said after meeting at the White House with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez took to Twitter late Thursday to call the U.S. sanctions “outrageous and unacceptable.” She said that the executive order was one more example of U.S. attempts to interfere and destabilize Maduro’s government and that the president strongly backs the Supreme Court magistrates who are “victims of U.S. imperial power.”
Venezuela’s Supreme Court has long been filled with government loyalists. The court’s constitutional chamber declared null and void eight National Assembly laws between January and October 2016, after just one such ruling in the previous 200 years, legal experts say.
In issuing its sanctions ruling, the U.S. Treasury Department cited several court rulings since the opposition gained control of congress. 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. Another was a ruling a year ago declaring null all acts of the National Assembly issued while it remains in contempt of an earlier ruling requiring the congress to unseat three elected lawmakers over still-unproven allegations of voting fraud.
Moreno, while not directly involved in those decisions, has defended them and from the bench also upheld a nearly 14-year sentence for opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez a day after Trump called for his release at a White House meeting with his wife.
Venezuelan government officials dispute the notion that the country’s justice system is politicized. Maduro has said he had no prior knowledge of the Supreme Court ruling against congress in March, pointing to the objections raised by Venezuela’s chief prosecutor as proof the country’s institutions operate independently.
Related news releases
- 24.09.2017US Army helicopter patrolling over New York collides with unknown drone
- 24.09.2017Trump accuses Iran of cooperation with North Korea after missile test launch
- 24.09.2017Death toll reaches 305 in central Mexico quake
- 24.09.2017North Korea: Nobody Except Trump Himself Is on a 'Suicide Mission'
- 23.09.2017Earthquake-hit Mexico struck by 6.1 aftershock
- 23.09.2017Canada to impose sanctions on Venezuela's Maduro and top officials
- 23.09.2017Azerbaijani FM speaks at OIC Annual Coordination Meeting
- 22.09.2017Mexico earthquake: Death toll rises as search for survivors goes on
- 22.09.2017Erdogan, Trump hold talks in New York
- 22.09.2017Storm Maria brings fear, pain and shock to Puerto Ricans
- 21.09.2017US imposes new sanctions on North Korea
- 21.09.2017Trump to make 'important sanctions-related announcement' about North Korea, says White House
- 21.09.2017Erdogan, Trump to meet in NYC on Thursday
- 21.09.2017Mexico rescuers work into night to save trapped girl as quake toll tops 230
- 21.09.2017Palestinian Abbas says Middle East peace closer with Trump engaged
- 21.09.2017Hurricane Maria brings destruction, heavy floods to Puerto Rico
- 21.09.2017US: 1 shot at Illinois high school
- 20.09.2017Afghan president says Trump war plan has better chance than Obama's
- 20.09.2017Oil up 2 percent despite U.S. crude build
- 20.09.2017Death toll from Mexico earthquake hits 226- UPDATED-2
- 20.09.2017Russia calls on US to engage in dialogue with North Korea — Lavrov
- 20.09.2017Lavrov, Abbas discuss efforts to restore Palestinian unity
- 19.09.2017Mexico city International airport suspends operations after strong earthquake
- 19.09.20177.1 magnitude earthquake hits Mexico city
- 19.09.2017Trump says if threatened, U.S. will 'totally destroy' North Korea
- 19.09.2017Azerbaijani President attends opening of General Debate of 72nd Session of UN General Assembly in New York
- 19.09.2017Hurricane Maria betters Dominica, heads to Puerto Rico
- 19.09.2017Trump calls out ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ by name at UN
- 19.09.2017US to pay 'high cost' if it leaves Iran deal: Rouhani
- 19.09.2017Powerful Hurricane Maria targets Caribbean, Puerto Rico
- 19.09.2017US Senate overwhelmingly approves defense spending bill
- 19.09.2017Xi and Trump discuss sanctions pressure on North Korea: White House
- 18.09.2017France defends Iran nuclear deal, Trump to decide soon
- 18.09.2017President Ilham Aliyev attended Political Declaration for UN Reform High Level Event in New York
- 18.09.2017128 Nations Sign US Declaration on Reform of United Nations
- 18.09.2017UN stunted by 'bureaucracy and mismanagement': Trump
- 17.09.2017US denies U-turn on climate deal
- 17.09.2017UN Security Council to hold ministerial meeting on non-proliferation next week
- 17.09.2017Jets strike U.S.-backed forces in eastern Syria
- 17.09.2017St Louis police killing: 30 arrests after acquittal protests
- 19.05.2017Mattis: Militia hit by US strike in Syria Iran-directed offensive force
- 20.05.2017White House adviser is person of interest in Russia probe: report
- 20.05.2017U.N. sees 'incremental progress' after Syria talks
- 19.05.2017US sends second aircraft carrier to Korea after DPRK’s missile test
- 19.05.2017Democrats predict a Trump sellout on NAFTA
- 19.05.2017Fox News founder dies at 77