US sanctions top Venezuelan officials as general strike paralyzes country

DWUS President Donald Trump’s administration slapped sanctions on 13 senior Venezuelan officials on Wednesday as the country’s opposition called a two-day nationwide strike ahead of President Nicolas Maduro’s plan to hold an election over the weekend for a special congress to rewrite the constitution.

Millions of people heeded the opposition’s call to join the strike, the second in a week, with highways and streets mostly empty and businesses shuttered across the country as protesters threw up makeshift barricades in some areas.

There were also clashes between protesters and police in some areas, with the death of a protester in western Merida state bringing the total death toll from four months of protests to at least 102 people. …



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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and elsewhere. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, Russia, and even transnational criminal organizations.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform policymakers and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.