US vows further action against Venezuela's 'bad actors' barring changes


The Trump administration will take further action against "bad actors" in Venezuela if there are no changes in the country, a senior US government official said on Thursday.

Word of the new sanctions came as President Donald Trump expressed dismay at how once-prospero us Venezuela was now mired in poverty, saying "it's been unbelievably poorly run".

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has likened the harassment of government officials and their families outside of Venezuela to the treatment of Jews under the Nazis.

Uruguay's United Nations ambassador, Elbio Rosselli, this month's council president, said his government favors a regional approach and is working with many other countries to help the political factions in Venezuela resolve the crisis.

Another sanctioned magistrate, Calixto Ortega, is a long-time diplomat who was sent by Maduro in 2014 to Aruba to negotiate the release of a retired army general who had been arrested by the Netherlands, which runs the Caribbean island's foreign affairs, on a USA drug warrant.

Maduro also suggested that the huge protests that have convulsed the nation for six weeks are similar to the rallies Nazi leader Adolf Hitler presided over in the 1930s.

The Trump administration has threatened further measures against Caracas, but sanctions so far have stopped short of hitting the oil sector in Venezuela, which is a major U.S. oil supplier. The ruling was later partially reversed amid a surge of worldwide criticism, but it sparked a protest movement that has seen almost daily street demonstrations for nearly two months - sometimes violent unrest that recorded its 45th death Thursday.

The Supreme Court justices added to the sanctions blacklist were Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno, Calixto Ortega, Arcadio Delgado, Federico Fuenmayor, Carmen Zuleta, Lourdes Suarez Anderson and Juan Jose Mendoza.

Despite its vast oil reserves, Venezuela is suffering chronic shortages of food, medicine and other basic supplies.

But he said that "as a gesture of good will" Brazil would send back its ambassador to Venezuela. It said the National Assembly was in contempt.

The new sanctions come as Maduro is facing increasing worldwide pressure to hold elections.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro has been pushing for Caracas to be suspended from the hemispheric body if it did not swiftly hold general elections amid the economic crisis, and the Spanish-speaking nation threatened to withdraw its membership in the organization after the Washington-based OAS last week floated the idea of the foreign ministers' meeting, now likely to be held on May 21 or 22, according Peru's foreign minister Ricardo Luna.

The UN Security Council turned its attention to the growing crisis in Venezuela for the first time on Wednesday, May 17, as the USA warned of the consequences of "serious instability" in the country.

Protesters are demanding elections, freedom for jailed activists, foreign aid and autonomy for the opposition-led legislature, however Maduro has labelled the protest a violent coup attempt. On Thursday, several thousand demonstrators once again collapsed Caracas and other cities in protests that ended in clashes with security forces firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

OPEC member Venezuela officially said on Tuesday that it is supporting the proposal for a nine-month extension of the deal.