US Treasury Department Imposes Sanctions on Venezuelan Supreme Court

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday slapped sanctions on eight Venezuelan supreme court justices, accusing them of abusing the authority of the country's legislature.

The opposition leader stressed the passport was valid until 2020.

Venezuela once had a Jewish community that numbered about 25,000 people, but leaders say more than half have fled amid economic and political insecurity.

Security forces fired tear gas at stone-throwing gangs, and crowds smashed their way into shops and offices in San Cristobal, the state capital, and elsewhere.

Human Rights advocates say Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro exerts controls over the judiciary.

The high court is dominated by loyalists of President Nicolas Maduro.

"From the humanitarian standpoint it is like nothing we've seen in a very long time", President Donald Trump said Thursday after meeting at the White House with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

The U.S. sanctions, announced Thursday by the Department of Treasury, freeze the assets of eight Venezuelan government officials on the Supreme Court in an effort to support the Venezuelan people "in their efforts to protect and advance democratic governance".

Senator Ted Cruz was among the first USA lawmakers to react to news of the sanctions.

Pic: ReutersSAN CRISTOBAL, VENEZUELA: Venezuela said it was sending 2,000 soldiers on Wednesday to a border state that is a hotspot of anti-government radicalism after looting that killed a 15-year-old in the latest unrest roiling the nation.

"If they have not violated any law in the United States and are here legally, they have every right to be where they want", he told AFP.

U.N. Ambassador Sacha Llorentty Soliz of Bolivia, whose government is an ally of Venezuela, said Wednesday's council meeting interfered with regional efforts to resolve the political dispute. She said the order was one more example of US attempts to destabilize Venezuela's government, adding that Maduro strongly backs the Supreme Court magistrates who are "victims of USA imperial power".

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles says he has been stopped from leaving the country to meet United Nations officials in NY, according to BBC News.

With the latest sanctions, the USA government said the court members were being targeted because they had "usurped the authority of Venezuela's democratically elected legislature".

Despite having the world's largest known oil reserves, Venezuela is facing a shortage of many basic items, including food and medicines. Three years ago, three months of anti-government demonstrations resulted in 43 people killed.

"In Venezuela there is no justice - the victims must do justice in our own way - and these acts of repudiation are one of them", he said.

According to United Nations sources, poverty rates in Venezuela were nearing 60 percent before 1998, and by 2015 were halved to less than 30 percent in spite of an economic crisis triggered by falling oil prices. "This announcement should be encouraging to the people of Venezuela that they are not alone".

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