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US Slaps Sanctions on Venezuelan President Maduro

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Government supporters in Venezuela take part in a rally on the final day of campaigning ahead of the July 30 poll Caracas Venezuela

A huge explosion injured several police officers in Venezuela during protests yesterday (Sunday) against the election in Caracas.

Assailants burst into the home of 39-year-old José Félix Pineda on Saturday night, according to an attorney for Ciudad Bolivar, the capital of Venezuela's southeastern Bolívar state.

Venezuela's attorney general, Luisa Ortega, a vocal critic of the Maduro government, called the vote an expression of "dictatorial ambition".

"A group of people broke into the residence of the victim located in the sector Brisas del Sur Tres and shot several shots", the ministry said on Twitter.

The ANC was proposed by Maduro in May to rewrite the 1999 Constitution to break the ongoing political deadlock that has paralyzed the South American country.

One day before the election, which is widely seen as a power grab by President Nicolas Maduro, a leading candidate and an opposition activist were shot dead.

But speaking in Caracas, Maduro said he was not scared of Trump and decried his sanctions decision as an act of "desperation" and "impotence".

The National Electoral Council claimed more than 40% of Venezuela's 20 million voters had cast ballots on Sunday.

"If it wasn't a tragedy. if it didn't mean more crisis, the electoral council's number would nearly make you laugh", opposition leader Freddy Guevara said on Twitter.

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Mnuchin reiterated the threat to sanction all 545 constituent assembly members once they are seated. Instead, the Trump administration is considering Russian-type financial sanctions to limit US companies from trading in sovereign debt on primary or secondary markets.

The constituent assembly itself has come under fire because it was created to rewrite the constitution and possibly supplant the opposition-led congress, whose members were elected in a conventional election in December 2015.

The United States stands by the people of Venezuela, and their constitutional representatives, in their quest to restore their country to a full and prosperous democracy.

He mocked U.S. criticism that the vote on Sunday was an affront to democracy.

"Nicolas Maduro's government must stop before it is too late", he said.

He said Sunday's vote had given Maduro "less legitimacy, less credibility, less popular support and less ability to govern". Due to plunging oil prices and widespread corruption and mismanagement, Venezuela's inflation and homicide rates are among the world's highest, and widespread shortages of food and medicine have citizens dying of preventable illnesses and rooting through trash to feed themselves. Maduro held previous roles in the Venezuelan government, including as executive vice president and minister of foreign affairs.

"Maduro is not just a bad leader".

Declaring the opposition "already has its prison cell waiting", Maduro added: "All the criminals will go to prison for the crimes they've committed".

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