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9 Aug, 2017 17:04

Chavez’s brother among 8 new Venezuela officials sanctioned by US Treasury

Chavez’s brother among 8 new Venezuela officials sanctioned by US Treasury

The US has imposed sanctions on eight Venezuelan officials, including the brother of the country’s late president Hugo Chavez, in connection with last month’s elections in the country.

The US Treasury website notes that Frias Chavez is a member of Venezuela’s Constituent Assembly and Secretary of Venezuela’s Presidential Commission for the Constituent Assembly.

The US has added the eight new names to the list of officials who were sanctioned last month, including Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro for their roles in the Constituent Assembly elections which the US called “illegitimate.”

Venezuela held the elections following months of street protests and clashes in which more than 100 people have died. Despite the violence and opposition boycott, over 8 million people participated in the process by casting their votes for the 545 candidates who will be empowered to draft a new constitution.

“I am proud of the alleged sanctions... because I do not wag my tail like a lying dog,” Maduro said after the sanctions were announced. “I am punished for defending the natural resources of Venezuelan lands.”

READ MORE: Maduro ‘ready for national dialogue’ as vote on Venezuela’s new assembly gripped by violence

“I am the independent president of a free nation,” he said, according to Globovision. “You’re with Trump or Venezuela, you’re with Trump or with democracy, you’re with Trump or the free world.”

The sanctions mean that Americans are forbidden from conducting any business with the designated individuals.

In an interview with RT Spanish several days before the move by Washington, Maduro stressed that his country strives to live peacefully with its neighbors, and called on US President Donald Trump to put an end to “aggression towards Venezuela.”

“As a president, I appeal to him, to President Donald Trump: Stop aggression towards Venezuela. Venezuela is a fundamental basis of stability in the whole Caribbean Basin,” Maduro said.

“Think well, US strategists, Venezuela wants to live in peace, it wants to live quietly. Stop your aggression,” Maduro said. He added that in the worst case scenario, “the Bolivarian revolution will have to take up arms and we will be again fighting under the same flag and across our border.”

Slamming the US for its attempt to disrupt Venezuela’s economy with an “indirect blockade” targeting the country’s financial system, Maduro said in the interview with RT that Venezuela is ready for “any scenario.”

The ultimate goal of that blockade is to trigger a default of Venezuela’s economy, Maduro argued, adding that the US attempted to do the same thing in 2015 and 2016, with no success.

The US says that the Venezuelan leadership “undermines democracy” by conducting the National Constituent Assembly elections.

The Maduro opposition says that the vote will give the ruling Socialist Party unprecedented powers, as well as a mandate to deny lawmakers parliamentary immunity.

A number of countries, including the UK, the US and Argentina, refused to recognize the election.

Russia, however, said the vote was laying the basis for a peaceful resolution of the issues plaguing Venezuelan society.

“We regret to note that opposition forces did not respond to the call to take part in the vote, but instead tried to hamper the elections, provoking clashes that have resulted in loss of life. We urge the opposing parties to stop the pointless violent confrontation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.