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US imposes sanctions on Venezuela's foreign minister

US imposes sanctions on Venezuela's foreign minister
Washington has slapped sanctions on Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza and a judge based in Caracas. The sanctions come a day after a damning report implicated US sanctions in the deaths of 40,000 Venezuelans.

Arreaza and the judge, Carol Padilla, are the latest Venezuelan officials targeted for the loyalty to President Nicolas Maduro. A host of military and police officials were sanctioned in February, while Madruo’s wife and several key allies were targeted by a separate round of sanctions last September.

Friday’s sanctions came two days after Arreaza condemned US efforts to “impose a dictatorship” at the United Nations by lending support to Venezuelan opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido. In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Arreaza slammed Washington’s "blatant attempt to expel or withdraw recognition of the credentials of member-states with full rights such as Venezuela."

As well as targeting Maduro officials, the US has imposed heavy sanctions on Venezuela’s state-controlled oil industry. A round of sanctions against the industry in February dropped exports by 40 percent, though shipments have since more or less stabilized.

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However, the Venezuelan government derives more than 90 percent of its export earnings form the oil trade, and any external shock to the system puts ordinary Venezuelans’ lives and livelihoods at risk. A report published Thursday by the Center for Economic and Policy Research has found that US sanctions have increased hunger, disease and mortality in Venezuela, and have stoked the country’s spiralling economic crisis.

Overall, the report says the measures have caused “very serious harm to human life and health, including an estimated more than 40,000 deaths” between 2017 and 2018.

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