Nicolas Maduro Declared that the American Sanctions are Illegal

Nicolas Maduro Declared that the American Sanctions are Illegal

The sanctions announcement did not appear to faze Maduro, who praised those placed under U.S. sanctions at a rally for Sunday's vote broadcast on state TV late on Wednesday.

The opposition and U.S. moves are to force Maduro to give up his plan to have a 545-member "Constituent Assembly" elected on Sunday.

The order was issued ahead of a mass protest called for tomorrow by the opposition, which is trying to force Maduro to scrap the election which will select a body tasked with drafting a new constitution for the crisis-hit country.

A sixteen-year-old boy protesting against President Nicolas Maduro's embattled government was killed today, prosecutors said, the second to die in the latest round of unrest.

Anti-government demonstrator eye Venezuelan Bolivarian National Guard officers on the first day of a 48-hour general strike in protest of government plans to rewrite the constitution, in the Bello Campo neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. An average of 78 people a day died violently past year in this country of 31.5 million, according the non-governmental Venezuelan Violence Observatory.

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Since Wednesday, thousands of people have turned out to hear the speeches before the election called by President Nicolas Maduro to arrive at a peaceful solution through dialogue to the current political situation in the country.

The move is aimed at showing Maduro's socialist government that U.S. President Donald Trump is prepared to make good on his threat of "strong and swift economic actions" if it goes ahead with plans for a vote on Sunday to establish an assembly that critics say will cement Maduro as dictator, the officials said.

As The Two-Way's Camila Domonoske reported last week, "Venezuela is one of the largest foreign suppliers of oil to the USA, accounting for almost 10 percent of total imports".

Venezuela's President Maduro calls the protesters "terrorists" and insists the demonstrations are a cover for a coup plot orchestrated by the US. The opposition has ramped up its protest activity in the run-up to the election of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), scheduled for July 30, announcing a week of protests and launching a two-day nationwide strike that kicked off on Wednesday.

Venezuela's long-time ideological foe the United States targeted the country's army and police chiefs, the national director of elections, and a vice president of the state oil company for alleged corruption and rights abuses.

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"The United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles", President Trump declared last week.

"The government has to stop its plan for a constituent assembly", Venezuela's Union leader Aldo Torres said. The assembly could dramatically reshape government and help Maduro further consolidate his power.

"We need to paralyze the whole country", said Flor Lanz, 68, standing with a group of women blocking the entrance to a freeway in upscale east Caracas with rope and iron sheets.

At least 107 people have died in anti-government unrest convulsing the South American country since April, when the opposition launched protests demanding free and fair elections to end almost two decades of socialist rule.

The oil export-dependent economy will shrink 12 percent this year, after a contraction of 18% last year, the International Monetary Fund said.

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