Maduro informs Putin about measures to resolve crisis in Venezuela

The Treasury Department on Thursday froze US assets of eight members of Venezuela's Supreme Court of Justice and barred American citizens from engaging in any financial transactions with them.

The officials say the list of blacklisted officials is likely to include members of Venezuela's Supreme Court, which issued a controversial late March ruling stripping congress of its last powers.

"The Venezuelan people are suffering from a collapsing economy brought about by their government's mismanagement and corruption. Members of the country's Supreme Court of J us tice have exacerbated the situation by consistently interfering with the legislative branch's authority", U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

"It is not tolerable that these individuals, after they destroyed the country, and are responsible for the chaos that Venezuela is experiencing, seek to exonerate themselves", he said.

The department announced in a news release Thursday that it has designated eight of the court's judges as government officials under a 2015 executive order signed by then President Barack Obama.

The United States warned at the United Nations that Venezuela's crisis was worsening and could escalate into a civil conflict like that of Syria. She said the order was one more example of USA attempts to destabilize Venezuela's government, adding that Maduro strongly backs the Supreme Court magistrates who are "victims of us imperial power".

Word of imminent new sanctions coincided with White House talks on Thursday between Trump and President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, Venezuela's neighbor.

In Caracas, protesters sought to march to the Interior and Justice Ministry but were blocked on a major highway by security forces firing tear gas and using armored vehicles.

In March 2015, former President Barack Obama expanded USA sanctions against Venezuelan officials and declared worsening relations with the South American nation to be a national emergency. In February, the administration ordered sanctions against Vice President Tareck El Aissami, accusing him of playing a major role in worldwide drug trafficking.

Earlier that month, a bipartisan letter from U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Senator Bob Menendez and 32 other lawmakers called on Trump to sanction Venezuelan officials who have allegedly profited from the country's chronic food shortages.

Social media has for weeks buzzed with videos of Venezuelan emigrees in countries ranging from Australia to the United States shouting insults at public officials and in some cases family members in public places.

Three people, including two teenagers, were killed in Tachira this week. But some opposition sympathizers say such mob-like harassment is the wrong way to confront the government.

Venezuela has been hit by a series of violent protests since early April, that have left at least 34 people dead and hundreds injured, as the opposition ramps up the pressure on Maduro to call overdue elections.

"That episode in the history of humanity, which cost 6 million Jews their lives, among them 1.5 million children, is unique and incomparable", it said.

  • Zachary Reyes