US Blacklists the President of Venezuela as a Specially Designated National (SDN)

Reuters

Reuters

Robert Griffiths, who publicly backed Jeremy Corbyn in the recent election in Britain, was speaking to Julia Hartley-Brewer after reports two of Venezuela's most prominent opposition politicians have been snatched from their homes by the country's intelligence agencies, and Maduro won a hugely controversial election which could allow him to assume dictatorial powers - despite critics calling the vote a sham.

In a move to temper any momentum for the opposition, government agents seized two opposition leaders from their homes, where they had already been on house arrest, during overnight raids, according to their families.

"By designating Maduro himself, he joins a very exclusive club - including Mr. Mugabe, Bashar al-Assad, and Kim Jong-un in terms of the brutal repression of his people and, in this case, the abrogation of the constitution with the constitution - with the constituent assembly", McMaster said.

Four months of street demonstrations since April against Maduro have left 120 people dead, including 10 over the weekend that included the election.

Now, for months, Venezuela's government has held hundreds of political prisoners, with some arbitrarily detained and others prosecuted in the military justice system.

Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma were both under house arrest, the former for his role in leading street protests against President Nicolas Maduro in 2014 and the latter on charges of plotting a coup. But "the prison and the persecution of our leaders does not stop not rebellion".

One of the top leaders in Maduro's administration, Diosdado Cabello, said the Constituent Assembly would take power in 72 hours, and that it would establish a "truth commission" to prosecute political opponents. The opposition has accused Maduro of corruption and economic mismanagement for Venezuela's woes. Maduro, whose mandate ends in 2019.

Maduro made clear in a televised address Saturday that he intends to use the assembly not just to rewrite the country's charter but to govern without limitation.

According to him, the decisions of Washington emphasize "the helplessness, the despair, his hatred" after the vote of Sunday.

Direct economic sanctions against Maduro, among them the freezing of assets under U.S. jurisdiction.

Tasked with writing a new constitution, it has far-reaching powers - including the right to dissolve the National Assembly and change laws.

The most obvious way to hurt Maduro is to hit the heart of Venezuela's economy: oil.

The new constituent assembly is to start working tomorrow.

"They (U.S.) think that with those actions they will accomplish to subdue the people to a puppet opposition they financed and now promises to burn the country", added the text. Each camp disputed the figures of the other.

"By the force of blows and pushes Antonio was taken from our house". "This is clearly a step in the wrong direction", said a spokesperson of the EU High representative, Federica Mogherini.

"Why the hell should we care what Trump says?" he added. The United States, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Canada, Costa Rica and Panama condemned it. Nicaragua and Bolivia praised the vote.

Venezuela, the largest exporter of oil in Latin America, is on the verge of economic collapse and 80% of Venezuelans disapprove of the management of the president, according to the institute of polls from Datanalisis.

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