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US sanctions 13 Venezuelan officials ahead of Constituent Assembly election

The U.S. Treasury Department announced on Wednesday, July 26 that it would sanction 13 Venezuelan government and military officials.

The officials include those involved with the formation of the Constituent Assembly, a body tasked with writing the country’s 18-year old constitution.

Anyone joining the Constituent Assembly could be subject to US sanctions, a senior U.S. administration official told reporters on a press call on Wednesday.

The White House has previously said the administration views the July 30 Constituent Assembly election as Maduro’s way of creating a “full dictatorship” in Venezuela.

Earlier, U.S. officials told Reuters that the sanctions would target Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s government, including “for alleged human rights abuses and corruption,” but would not affect the country’s oil industry.

Prior to the announcement, Senator Marco Rubio, a proponent of the sanctions, indicated there was more to come.

An administration official said Wednesday that all options were on the table.

“We are trying to look at the impact such options would have … on the Venezuelan people [and] the United States,” the official said.

On June 17, President Donald Trump said the U.S. would take “strong and swift economic actions” if Maduro moves ahead with plans to rewrite the country’s constitution.

“We see July 30 as a critical line that if crossed could be the end of democracy in Venezuela,” the administration official said on Wednesday.

In addition to rewriting the constitution, the body would have the power to dissolve the National Assembly. Critics and opposition leaders also say it could delay the planned 2018 presidential election.

New sanctions will likely make already-frosty relations between the U.S. and Venezuela worse. Maduro has accused the opposition of working with Washington to force him out of power.

Reacting to Trump, Maduro said last week: “No one gives Venezuela orders, no foreign government. Donald Trump is not the boss of Venezuela.”

OFAC released the names of the officials sanctioned on Wednesday:

Maduro defiant after Trump threatens economic sanctions on Venezuela

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