US Brands Venezuela's Maduro a Dictator and Slaps Him with Sanctions

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Monday's sanctions are not the first leveled by the US against Maduro's government. "I'm proud of these sanctions, Mr. Emperor Donald Trump". More than 80 percent believe that the current constitution-drafted by Maduro's predecessor, Hugo Chávez, who compared it to the Bible and would hand out miniature copies of it at rallies-is sufficient. The two get mixed together in Venezuela and shipped back to the United States. "What a tremendous democracy".

"Maduro's sham election is another step toward dictatorship", Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said on Twitter.

Why was the election so controversial?

The communique of the Cuban Foreign Ministry described as an "offense" the cynism of those who pretend to acuse the Bolivarian government and the defenders of the people of the crimes committed by the Venezuelan opposition. However, opposition politicians say the true number is closer to 12 per cent.

They had called on Venezuelans to join protests over Sunday's election of the constituent assembly, which supersedes an opposition-controlled congress that a pro-Maduro Supreme Court had already stripped of its powers.

The ANC, which many expect to be stacked with Maduro supporters, would be able to rewrite the country's constitution.

The new Constituent Assembly is set to replace the democratically elected members this week.

Political tension has been mounting since the Democratic Unity Roundtable, a coalition of anti-Maduro parties, became the majority in the National Assembly in the 2015 elections.

The 2002 Venezuela coup, which saw Chavez briefly removed from power, was followed by allegations of United States involvement and resurrected fears about the country's ambitions in the region.

Even after judges backtracked on the plan, Venezuelans continued to pour on to the streets in mass anti-government demonstrations.

In February 2014, at least three people were killed during an anti-government protest in the capital, and authorities blamed Lopez for the violence.

Is Maduro becoming a dictator?
Also, many people were expecting more strong response from the opposition today.

The biggest threat for Maduro and his allies is the imposition of USA sanctions over the election.

"This outrageous seizure of absolute power through a sham election represents a serious blow to democracy in our hemisphere", McMaster said.

The U.S. sends light crude oil to Venezuela, which has heavy crude. Due to plunging oil prices and widespread corruption and mismanagement, Venezuela's inflation and homicide rates are among the world's highest, and widespread shortages of food and medicine have citizens dying of preventable illnesses and rooting through trash to feed themselves.

While Maduro still enjoys the unwavering support of hardcore Chavistas, including a host of socialist paramilitary groups who have been accused of killing opposition activists with impunity, ordinary Venezuelans are less convinced.

Freezing Maduro's personal assets (on top of similar actions taken against many of his henchmen recently) is a step in the right direction.

Lacking the magnetism which made his predecessor untouchable to a large swathe of Venezuela's dispossessed, "Maduro's easiest path to guaranteed survival is a one-party state", says The Independent, "and this is what he is now intent upon".

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