The Only Opposition Venezuela's Government Cannot Get Rid of Is Reality

People look for groceries and goods at a supermarket in Caracas Venezuela

US Advises Citizens in Venezuela to Gather Food Water Ahead of Opposition Rally REUTERS Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Even though the decision was reversed three days later, it triggered a series of bloody street protests that have lasted for months.

Five people died during last week's strike as National Guard troops seeking to dismantle blockades fired teargas and rubber bullets at masked youths hurling stones and Molotov cocktails.

The flow of Venezuelans crossing the border into Colombia to escape unrest and penury at home has become a torrent because of fears of violence surrounding a weekend election organized by the government.

Speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity on Wednesday, Trump administration officials threatened "strong and swift economic action" if Venezuela goes through with Sunday's election, citing concerns about Mr.

The unpopular leftist leader is pressing ahead with the vote for a Constitutional Assembly on Sunday despite the opposition of most Venezuelans, a crescendo of global criticism, and some dissent within his ruling Socialist Party.

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's attempt to use Latin hit "Despacito" - which means "slowly" - to inject some cool into his controversial new congress has backfired quickly.

If the election proceeds according to Maduro's schedule on Sunday, the rules have been arranged to guarantee he will end up with control of the Assembly despite having lost the July referendum on his plans to increase his constitutional powers by 98 percent, and holding a current popularity rating of about ten percent.

In February, his administration sanctioned Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El-Aissami.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez called on Venezuelans to support the strike in his first direct public message since being moved from prison to house arrest this month.

"Anyone elected to the National Constituent Assembly should know that their role in undermining democratic processes and institutions in Venezuela could expose them to potential U.S. sanctions", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday.

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The sanctions target senior Venezuelan officials that the USA says are promoting that vote or undermining democracy, along with five others implicated in violence or repression amid the country's political crisis.

Massive protests are scheduled for Friday. "Individuals who are undermining democracy and human rights in Venezuela should be held accountable for their actions", Ms. Freeland said in a statement.

"The people of Venezuela must fuel the general strike".

Maduro has also urged citizens to come out on Thursday to the closing of the election campaign of the National Constituent Assembly in Caracas, saying "under rain, thunder or lighten we will continue with the election of the candidates for deputies to the Constituent Assembly".

But policy makers continue to weigh the potential risks of such sanctions, which include inflicting further suffering on Venezuelans and raising US domestic gasoline prices. Cutting the supply would also hurt the U.S. because, according to experts, it would raise the price of crude and the United States would also have to use strategic reserves while the refineries look for alternative suppliers. For example, the Supreme Court took over the power of the National Assembly in a move that was described as a coup d'état by opposition leaders and the worldwide community.

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On Sunday, Maduro vowed that the opposition's judges would be arrested "one by one" and their assets frozen. "Venezuela is meeting its worldwide commitments and will continue to do so".

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