USA imposes sanctions on officials in Venezuela

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Yet a number of leaders, amid prodding from the Trump administration, have lately been overcoming their reluctance to intervene in a neighbor's internal political affairs after looking the other ways for years on Venezuela.

All this served as the backdrop for the reconvening of the National Constituent Assembly on Wednesday, Aug 9, where the topic of discussion was one of paramount importance: the struggle to diversify, strengthen, and address the character of Venezuela's economy in the face of the economic war waged by the national and worldwide forces of austerity, neoliberalism and counter-revolution.

The White House said yesterday that Maduro requested a phone call with Mr. Trump after his comments. The Venezuelan government said it would respond later on Friday to Trump's threat of intervention.

Maduro has reached out to Trump on more than one occasion, but his unwillingness to return to a more democratic government in Venezuela is likely to prevent that from happening.

Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino on Friday disparaged Trump's warning as "craziness" and Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said on Saturday Venezuela rejected "hostile" threats, calling on Latin America to unite against Washington.

"The United States condemns the actions of the Maduro dictatorship".

The statement added that since the start of his administration, Trump had asked that Maduro respect Venezuela's constitution.

While Trump raised the specter of military intervention, his top national security aides have downplayed that possibility.

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But if any U.S. military contingency planning is under way, it must be in its early stages. Peru's government has expelled Venezuela's ambassador as regional pressure builds on President Nicolas Maduro's government for allegedly trampling on the constitutional order.

"Military force must be the last option, not the first".

The president did not answer a question about whether American troops would lead a potential operation. "Provocative statements by @realDonaldTrump on North Korea and Venezuela are reckless", said Rep. Ted Lieu.

The US government has sanctioned more than 20 Venezuelan government officials in the last few weeks.

The remarks come amid increasing concern about Venezuela and increasing unrest there following a vote that installed a new legislature beholden to Maduro.

Not even the frustration over Trump's decision to partially roll back Obama's opening to Cuba - a diplomatic thaw that was applauded across the region's political spectrum - or his constant talk of building a border wall to keep out immigrants got in the way of presenting a united front toward Maduro.

"President Trump will gladly speak with the leader of Venezuela as soon as democracy is restored in that country", it said.

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