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Venezuelan leader to Trump: "'Get your pig hands out of here"

20 May 2017, 11:30 | Taylor George

Venezuelan Bishops Denounce Attempt to Rewrite Constitution, Meet with Maduro

An anti-government protester is taken away on a motorcycle by other demonstrators after injuring his leg during clashes with security forces in Caracas Venezuela Thursday

Venezuela's latest wave of anti-government unrest, which has left at least 45 people dead in the last six weeks, began with the Supreme Court, packed with Maduro supporters, assuming the authorities of the opposition-led Congress in late March.

"The Venezuelan people are suffering from a collapsing economy brought about by their government's mismanagement and corruption", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. Maikel Moreno, the president of Venezuela's Supreme Court, and among those sanctioned by the US government, said Friday that Trump's executive order was an attempt to impose its authority over Venezuela's institutions and compromise the judicial branch's independence. All of those targeted will have US assets frozen and be denied travel to the United States, while American citizens will be barred from doing business with them, officials said. In February, the United States blacklisted Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami for alleged links to drug trafficking.

Honduras on Friday announced it was indefinitely withdrawing its top diplomat to Venezuela over the political crisis enveloping the South American nation.

"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?

"We haven't really seen a problem like that, I would say, Mr. President, in decades, in terms of the kind of violence that we're witnessing", Trump said, adding that "we'll work together to do whatever is necessary to help with fixing that".

The executive order issued Thursday marked the second time the US has sanctioned leaders of Venezuela's socialist government since Donald Trump became president this year.

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Venezuela's Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said the sanctions were proof the United States was playing a role in "the destabilisation of Venezuela".

Ortega Diaz broke with the government shortly after the Supreme Court's controversial ruling in March, calling it a "rupture" of the constitutional order. Maduro also controls the court, which has routinely backed his increasingly autocratic actions.

They were accused of using their power to usurp the authority of Venezuela's "democratically elected legislature", which stands in opposition to Maduro and has been largely sidelined by him, the Treasury Department said.

One was the approval of Maduro's budget and his appointment of two government sympathisers to the National Electoral Council, decisions that are supposed to require National Assembly approval.

With the worsening economic climate, Venezuela's president, Nicolas Maduro, has been struggling to hold unto power, and has been going to extraordinary means to do so.

The threat of new sanctions comes as Maduro, a socialist, is facing increasing global pressure to hold elections. The protest in Caracas comes after nearly two months of unrest nationwide in which more than 40 people have been killed.



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