The Treasury Department slapped sanctions Monday on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro alleging that Venezuela’s president has attempted to undermine democracy and the rule of law in his country.
On Sunday, Venezuela held a controversial vote to create the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), a constitutional assembly that would grant Maduro’s party sweeping power. But many countries said they would not recognize that vote.
There was no option to vote against the process—even though 85 percent of the country is reportedly against it—and the opposition boycotted the vote; instead, they filled the streets in protest in what became one of the most violent days in three months.
In the lead up to the vote, the government banned public demonstrations and promised to punish those who tried to disrupt it. At least 10 people were killed Sunday including two teenagers, and a police officer.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin while anouncing the sanctions said that yesterday’s illegitimate elections confirm that Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people. Beginning on Monday, all of the Venezuelan’s president’s assets that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction will be frozen. All U.S. citizens are also barred from dealing with him.
“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.” said Steven Mnuchin.
“Who do these imperialists in the United States think they are?” Mr Maduro said in response to these sanctions. “The government of the world?”
He called the sanctions “illegal, insolent and unprecedented”.
International condemnation of the latest vote was widespread on Monday. The EU expressed “preoccupation for the fate of democracy in Venezuela”, and said it doubted it could accept the results.
However, Russia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia have stood by Mr Maduro.
Venezuela’s 30 million citizens are suffering through shortages of basic goods and medicines, as the country’s weakened economy declines still further.