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
- 23.02.2018Trump administration to target North Korea with new sanctions on Friday
- 23.02.2018IAEA reaffirms Iran’s compliance with JCPOA in its new report
- 23.02.2018SpaceX launches internet satellite prototypes
- 23.02.2018Man dies after throwing explosive device at US Embassy in Montenegro
- 23.02.2018Oil prices climb after unexpected drawdown in U.S. crude stocks
- 23.02.2018Russian diplomats tried to export 400 kg of cocaine from Argentina
- 22.02.2018Charity boss resigns from Unicef
- 22.02.2018US: Melania Trump’s parents become US residents
- 22.02.2018U.S. SEC updates guidance on cyber attack disclosure for companies
- 21.02.2018US: students rally in Florida to stop school shootings
- 21.02.2018U.S.-led air strike in Somalia kills three al Shabaab militants: statement
- 21.02.2018US pledges closer cooperation with Turkey
- 21.02.2018Trump pushes for ban on gun 'bump stocks'
- 21.02.2018Trump phones Mexican president over copter crash
- 20.02.2018Pentagon prepares new ballistic missile defense review
- 19.02.2018Tillerson says new sanctions can be imposed on Russia
- 18.02.2018US to work with Turkey on liberated areas in Syria
- 18.02.2018Brazil to form public security ministry to battle rising crime
- 18.02.2018US charges 13 Russian nationals, 3 organizations with alleged meddling in 2016 election
- 17.02.2018Mexico helicopter crash kills 13 on ground in wake of earthquake
- 17.02.2018Helicopter with interior minister, governor crashes into van in Mexico, kills two
- 17.02.2018Flu killed 22 American children last week
- 17.02.2018Mexico hit by major earthquake of magnitude 7.5
- 17.02.2018FBI failed to investigate Florida shooter tip
- 16.02.2018US grand jury indicts 13 Russians for election meddling
- 16.02.2018John Kirby: "Tillerson breaks protocol by meeting Erdogan without translator"
- 16.02.2018Tillerson and Turkey's Erdogan had productive conversation: U.S. spokesman
- 16.02.2018US court says travel ban discriminates against Muslims
- 15.02.2018FBI was warned about Florida gunman
- 15.02.2018Avalanche kills three skiers in France
- 15.02.2018US and Russia dispute over Syria in UN Security Council
- 15.02.2018Any U.S. talks with North Korea would press denuclearization demand: Pence
- 15.02.2018Tillerson wants more cooperation with Turkey on Syria
- 15.02.2018Ex-student kills 17 in shooting spree at Florida high school- UPDATED
- 14.02.2018New US sanctions against Russia to come in near future - US Treasury Secretary
- 14.02.2018Shooting outside NSA campus leaves at least three injured
- 14.02.2018Tillerson stresses need to discuss issue of co-op to reduce threats against Turkey
- 14.02.2018Washington Has No Problem With Turkey's Plan to Rename US Embassy Street
- 14.02.2018State Department: US Ready to Hold Talks With North Korea
- 14.02.2018Several People Injured in Utah Shooting
- 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