USA wants Venezuela punished by 35-nation group

A customer displays new 500 Bolivar banknotes in Caracas Venezuela Jan. 17 2017

In his speech at the OAS, Pence also called for restricting Venezuelan leadership's access to financial instruments on the territories of OAS member states, introducing visa restrictions against "Venezuela's corrupt leaders" and for holding Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro "accountable for destroying Venezuela's democracy".

Haley said that the people of the South American country are "unwilling victims of a criminal narco-state, " and that the May 20 elections in which Maduro is seeking reelection will be fraudulent if independent observers are absent.

WASHINGTON-The U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on Monday against Venezuela's former financial intelligence chief over his alleged work as a drug kingpin, and 20 Venezuelan and Panamanian firms for allegedly laundering narcotrafficking proceeds.

The action freezes any of their assets in the USA or held by people in the U.S.

"We believe it is time to do more, much more", Pence said in an address to the OAS in Washington.

In August, the administration froze assets of eight current and former Venezuelan officials, including Adan Chavez, brother of the late president Hugo Chavez, and Hermann Escarra, a constitutional adviser to Maduro.

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He also reiterated that U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed himself in demeaning terms about some OAS member states and threatened to revoke the Temporary Protected Status Program (TPS).

Elections in Venezuela are traditionally held in December, but the country's National Electoral Council scheduled the contest for spring - a move critics say aims to take advantage of divisions within the opposition party. Maduro asked a crowd in a rally on Tuesday in southern Amazonas state, condemning the US president and vice president for sanctions on his government. The Venezuelan government has said that it fears sectors of the right-wing opposition will carry out violent attacks on election day with the foreign assistance.

Of the newly sanctioned companies, 16 are based in Venezuela and four in Panama.

Deputy Minister Samuel Moncada reiterated that the U.S. Government is one of the most aggressive and humiliating in the region. The U.S. State Department has said not all political parties have agreed to the elections, limiting the ability of individuals to run.

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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