US Hits Venezuelan 'Dictator' President With Sanctions
Move comes after weekend election that will give ruling party virtually unlimited power
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 31, 2017 4:06 PM CDT
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Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro shows his ballot after casting a vote for a constitutional assembly in Caracas, Venezuela on Sunday, July 30, 2017.   (Miraflores Press Office via AP)

(Newser) – The Trump administration has hit Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro with financial sanctions. The move comes after Venezuela held a weekend election that will give Maduro's ruling party virtually unlimited power in the South American country, reports the AP. The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control announced the sanctions against Maduro in a brief statement on Monday, a day after the Venezuelan vote to elect a constituent assembly that will rewrite the constitution. According to the Miami Herald, a statement from Trump read during a White House briefing Monday didn't mince words: “Maduro is not just a bad leader: He is now a dictator.” Per the Herald, the sanctions froze assets, banned travel, and forbade Americans from interacting with Maduro.

But extending the sanctions to Venezuelan oil might not be a good look for Trump, reports the Washington Post. The South American country, listed by the US Energy Information Administration as the US’s third largest oil supplier after Canada and Saudi Arabia, provides America with 10% of its oil. An energy economist told the Post that a full ban would cause prices to surge: "Prices would go up like a rocket. Gas prices in the US would go up 25 or 30 cents a gallon within a couple of weeks." But along party lines, Republicans including senators John McCain and Marco Rubio are urging Trump to hit back hard after the Venezuelan election. McCain commended the move for sanctions on social media, also tweeting that Venezuelans "deserve democracy—not sham elections and Maduro’s repression."

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