US imposes sanctions on Venezuela Supreme Court

The U.S. Treasury Department is freezing the assets of eight members of Venezuela's Supreme Court of Justice as a result of rulings that the U.S. says have usurped the power of that country's democratically elected National Assembly. President Maduro has reiterated that elections will be held on schedule in 2018, but the opposition has demanded his immediate removal, seeking foreign intervention in its destabilization campaign.

Fifteen-year-old Jose Guerrero's death in San Cristobal on Wednesday means the death toll from almost two months of protests and street clashes is likely to surpass that seen in the country's last political upheaval in 2014.

On May 1, President Nicolas Maduro called for a new Constitution as a way to overcome the political crisis, and pushed for forming a constituent assembly to draft the document.

Throughout its budget justifications for Venezuela, the department of state repeatedly emphasizes its concern over the "increasingly authoritarian tendencies" of the governments of the late President Hugo Chavez, and current President Nicolas Maduro, in spite of regularly scheduled elections that are internationally recognized.

Venezuela's Supreme Court has always been packed with government loyalists, some of dubious legal qualifications.

US President Donald Trump and his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos discussed Venezuela's "deteriorating situation" at a White House meeting on Thursday.

The US has imposed new sanctions on Venezuelan officials for alleged human rights abuses. In February, the US ordered sanctions against Vice President Tareck El Aissami, accusing him of playing a major role in worldwide drug trafficking. The protest in Caracas comes after a tumultuous 24 hours of looting and protests in the western state of Tachira that.

He warned that if things go wrong Venezuela could "descend into conflict" and threaten worldwide peace and security, "and so we need to act, in whatever way we can, starting with our discussion today".

A water canon sprays government protesters trying to reach the Interior Ministry, in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, May 18, 2017.

"From this moment we are not going to permit any more violent or terroristic acts", said Jose Morantes Torres, commander of a regional defence force overseeing operations.

Earlier in the day, the Venezuelan leader held a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The revolutionary government has significantly eroded the political and economic hegemony the US had over Venezuelan oil, which holds one of the largest petroleum reserves in the world.

Another person was killed in the ongoing clashes between anti-government demonstrators and police in Venzuela.

Marco Rubio of Florida, the main congressional backer of Trump's hardened stance toward Maduro, said of the sanctions.

They pledged to work together to help the Venezuelan people. Even though they no longer sit in Congress, the court said opposition leaders had not handled their case legally.

Britain's U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said it is "absolutely right" that the OAS and the 33-nation Community of Latin American and Caribbean States are taking the lead, "but it is also right that the Security Council, charged as we are on the maintenance of security and peace. keep a very close eye on the situation".

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