Trump admin hits Venezuela president with sanctions: 'He is now a dictator'

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"If they want to take over Congress with their armored vehicles, with their paramilitary groups, then what's waiting for them here is a fight", he said, referring to armed pro-government gangs who recently burst into Congress and beat legislators with lead pipes, leaving several of them bloodied and injured.

There we have it - if only Chávez had executed the "establishment elite" rather than charitably allowing them to live, then they wouldn't now be sabotaging the glorious Bolivarian revolution.

Lopez was detained three years ago after protests against Maduro's government and sentenced to more than a decade in prison on charges that include inciting protesters to violence.

There's been deep social unrest the last few months because of Venezuela's political climate. Ledezma, a former Caracas mayor, was also detained in 2015 and has been under house arrest.

Opposition parties sat out the election, saying it was rigged as part of a naked power grab by Maduro, leaving all 545 of the assembly's seats for the socialists and their allies. "Maduro is not just a bad leader, he is now a dictator", McMaster said.

"I don't obey orders from foreign governments and never will..." Instead, the Trump administration is considering Russian-type financial sanctions to limit USA companies from trading in sovereign debt on primary or secondary markets.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday rebuffed US sanctions that targeted him personally, saying he was "proud" to be singled out by the measure.

United States oil markets had a muted reaction yesterday after Washington slapped sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro but experts say broader oil-sector and financial sanctions may be the only way to make the Venezuelan government feel economic pain.

The news of Pineda's death before today's vote was announced Sunday via the Venezuela's Public Ministry's Twitter account.

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"The National Constituent Assembly aspires illegitimately to usurp the constitutional role of democratically elected National Assembly, rewrite the constitution and impose an authoritarian regime on the people", he said.

Electoral authorities claimed more than eight million people voted on Sunday to create a constitutional assembly endowing Mr Maduro's ruling party with virtually unlimited powers, though independent analysts estimated the real turnout was less than half that figure.

Venezuelans protest against President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on Tuesday.

"If it wasn't a tragedy. if it didn't mean more crisis, the electoral council's number would nearly make you laugh", opposition leader Freddy Guevara said on Twitter. However, imposing sanctions on a head of state is rare and can be symbolically powerful, leading other countries to similarly shun such a leader.

Maduro has said the new assembly will begin to govern within a week.

"They (US) don't intimidate me".

The European Union and nations including Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Spain, Britain and the United States criticized Sunday's vote.

"Nicolas Maduro's government must stop before it is too late", he said. 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.

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