US sanctions Venezuelan officials
The US government has imposed sanctions on 13 senior Venezuelan officials as pressure mounts on President Nicolás Maduro ahead of a controversial vote for a new constituent assembly.Sanctions were also threatened against anyone elected to serve on the "constituent assembly." I suspect the only way to bring down the Venezuelan despots is to halt the purchase of oil. There is ample alternative supply of oil and the leaders of the government would have a difficult time finding buyers.
The sanctions freeze the US assets of those affected, and US entities are barred from doing business with them.
Those targeted include the interior minister and the head of the army.
Last week, President Donald Trump vowed "strong and swift economic actions" if Mr Maduro held the poll, due on Sunday.
The vote, which Mr Maduro says will proceed as planned, is to choose the 545 members of a new constituent assembly that would rival the opposition-held National Assembly.
Critics say the president is trying to cement a dictatorship. He argues it is the only way to bring peace back to the divided nation.
The US sanctions also target the head of Venezuela's National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, and former vice president Elias Jaua, who is leading the presidential commissions organising Sunday's vote.
The inclusion of senior figures from the state oil company PDVSA underlines a further threat from Washington that sanctions on Venezuela's oil sector could be next.