Rubio praises Trump for new Venezuela sanctions

Rubio praises Trump for new Venezuela sanctions

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles said on Thursday authorities confiscated his passport and prevented him from traveling to NY to meet with United Nations officials about his country's deadly political crisis. "My passport is valid until 2020". Three years ago, three months of anti-government demonstrations resulted in 43 people killed.

President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday night criticized Venezuelan expatriates who have been yelling at Venezuelan officials in other countries, or who use social media to post photos of officials living it up outside Venezuela while the country's people are struggling with triple-digit inflation and food shortages. Instead of traveling, he said he would return to Caracas to join in ongoing protests Thursday.

The Trump administration imposed sanctions on the chief judge and seven other members of Venezuela's Supreme Court on Thursday as punishment for seizing powers from the opposition-led Congress earlier this year, USA officials said.

The Florida Republican represents the state with the largest number of Venezuelans living in the United States, many of whom strongly oppose Maduro's socialist government.

Speaking in Washington alongside visiting President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, Venezuela's neighbour, Trump called the humanitarian situation "a disgrace to humanity" and promised to help fix it, but he offered no new US approach.

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump called the situation in Venezuela a "disgrace to humanity", and said the deadly political crisis is possibly the worst of its kind in "decades".

Police have fired tear gas and protesters have hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails in near-daily clashes.

The new designations by the U.S. Treasury Department would be the second round of sanctions that the Trump administration has imposed on high-level Venezuelan officials since taking office.

"The Venezuelan people are suffering from a collapsing economy brought about by their government's mismanagement and corruption".

The U.S. government said the judges were being targeted because they had "usurped" democratic authority.

"When you look at the oil reserves that they have, when you look at the potential wealth that Venezuela has, you sort of have to wonder why is that happening, how is that possible?" said Trump.

Venezuela presents a "very, very awful problem" for the entire hemisphere, and the ongoing unrest there that's left dozens dead and hundreds injured was "nothing like what we've seen for a long time", Trump said, adding that the USA stood with those "yearning to be free".

In addition, Diosdado Cablello, former speaker of Venezuela's National Assembly, on his popular TV program, compared opposition marches with Kristallnacht, the vicious pogroms against Jews, Jewish-owned businesses, and synagogues unleashed by the Nazis in 1938. In February, the target was Vice President Tareck El Aissami, whom USA officials accuse of being involved in global drug trafficking.

But Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela's United Nations ambassador, accused the U.S. of encouraging violent elements within his country seeking to topple Maduro's government.

"In Venezuela, we are on the verge of humanitarian crisis", US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement ahead of the meeting.

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