U.S. sanctions Venezuela’s President Maduro, calling him a ‘dictator’

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The United States has slapped sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, condemning him as a “dictator” who disregards the will of his people after Sunday’s disputed election to rewrite the constitution.

All of Maduro’s assets which are subject to U.S. jurisdiction were frozen on Monday as a result of the sanctions, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said. American citizens are also prohibited from doing business with him.

“Yesterday’s illegitimate elections confirm that Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. “By sanctioning Maduro, the United States makes clear our opposition to the policies of his regime and our support for the people of Venezuela who seek to return their country to a full and prosperous democracy.”

Anyone who participates in the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) could be exposed to future U.S. sanctions, Secretary Mnuchin warned in a statement, referring to the body that takes power from the National Assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution.

“The U.S. government and democratic governments worldwide continue to call on the Venezuelan government to halt the ANC process and allow Venezuela’s democratic processes and institutions to function as intended,” the Treasury Department said. “We urge those who were elected to the Constituent Assembly to decline to take office.”

Venezuela’s Electoral Council said turnout in Sunday’s elections was more than 8 million, or 41.5 percent. But members of the opposition, activists, and independent experts have disputed those figures, claiming that the figure was between 2 and 3.6 million.

Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega, a vocal critic of Maduro’s government, said on Monday that she would not recognize the Constituent Assembly. She said Sunday’s elections had no legitimacy and warned that people’s political rights were at risk.

Venezuela has been hit by months of protests and escalating violence, leaving more than 120 people dead. Sunday’s elections were similarly marred by violence that resulted in the deaths of 15 people, including two people who were shot dead at a polling station.

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