Treasury Sanctions Eight Members of Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice

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The U.S. Treasury Department has slapped sanctions on Venezuela’s chief justice and seven other members of the country’s supreme court.

According to a Treasury statement, the justices are responsible for “a number of judicial rulings in the past year that have usurped the authority of Venezuela’s democratically-elected legislature, the National Assembly, including by allowing the Executive Branch to rule through emergency decree, thereby restricting the rights and thwarting the will of the Venezuelan people.”

The new sanctions package was aimed at stepping up pressure on the leftist government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his loyalists amid growing concern over a crackdown on street protests and his efforts to consolidate his rule over the South American oil-producing country.

The move provoked condemnation from Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez. “It’s outrageous and unacceptable for the United States to impose sanctions on a sovereign and independent nation in violation of Venezuelan and international laws,” she said on Twitter.

Recent anti-government protests have left 45 people dead after the Maduro-supporting Court effectively annulled the opposition-controlled National Assembly. Although the decision was partially reversed, it did not stop the unrest, according to Reuters.

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