US sanctions 7 Venezuelans for trying to seize control of legislature

January 14 2020

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The US has imposed sanctions on seven Venezuelan individuals who tried to seize control of the South American country's legislature, which has been controlled by the opposition since 2015.

In a press release on Monday, the US Treasury Department designated the individuals as "current or former officials of the government of Venezuela for their actions undermining democracy," adding that they were "corrupt National Assembly officials" who were doing the bidding of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, reports Efe news.

It described that move earlier this month as a "failed attempt to illegitimately seize control of the National Assembly and block interim President Juan Guaido and other deputies from participating in a constitutionally required election of National Assembly leadership".

Treasury said that in addition to lawmaker Luis Parra, the other individuals designated were Jose Gregorio Noriega Figueroa, Franklyn Leonardo Duarte, Jose Dionisio Brito Rodriguez, Conrado Antonio Perez Linares, Adolfo Ramon Superlano and Negal Manuel Morales Llovera.

The action by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control freezes any assets those seven Venezuelan individuals may have under US jurisdiction and bars them from conducting financial transactions with American citizens.

On January 5, Maduro's allies in the National Assembly and some opposition lawmakers elected Parra to replace Guaido as speaker.

Parra is a former member of the opposition Justice First party who was expelled due to corruption allegations that he denies.

During the session, security forces barred Guaido and other opposition lawmakers from entering the building.

Hours after Parra's election, Guaido led an improvised congressional session at the offices of an anti-Maduro newspaper, where they voted to re-elect him as speaker.

Guaido was first elected to head the National Assembly in January 2019 and a few weeks later was declared the nation's interim president by that body, which justified the move by asserting that Maduro's re-election victory in 2018 was marred by fraud.

Since being proclaimed Venezuela's interim president, Guaido has been recognized as such by the US and roughly 60 other countries.

But he has no influence over the bureaucracy or armed forces, which have publicly declared their support for Maduro and rejected the opposition's overtures, including an unsuccessful attempt by Guaido on April 30, 2019, to spark a military uprising.

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  • IANS