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Trump Targets Hugo Chávez’s Brother in Latest Round of Venezuela Sanctions

The U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions on eight individuals in Venezuela on Wednesday, citing them for “organizing or otherwise supporting the creation of Venezuela’s Constituent Assembly” and “participating in anti-democratic actions.”

The “Constituent Assembly” is socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro’s sham legislature, whipped up in an effort to disempower what remains of representative government in the country. The assembly was created in a July 30 election deemed illegitimate by the U.S. government and most of the states in the Western Hemisphere.

Maduro himself was hit by sanctions last week, in what the Associated Press describes as “a rare action against a foreign head of state.” This was followed swiftly by a round of sanctions against 13 current and former officials from the Maduro government.

Six of the eight people named in the new sanctions list are members or functionaries of the new Constituent Assembly. One of them, Adán Coromoto Chávez Frías, is the brother of the late Hugo Chávez, Maduro’s mentor.

Also sanctioned were Tania D’Amelio Cardiet, a rector of the Venezuelan National Electoral Council, who is believed to be under investigation in Venezuela for vote fraud; and military commander Bladimir Humberto Lugo Armas, who handles security for the original, legitimate National Assembly. Armas does not appear to have much enthusiasm for his job these days, since he stands accused of assaulting several Assembly members who oppose Maduro, including Assembly President Julio Borges.

The Miami Herald notes that one of the sanctioned individuals, Constituent Assembly delegate Hermann Escarra, has owned property in South Florida, as have members of his family. “Escarra himself was spotted at a North Miami Mercedes-Benz dealership in April,” the Herald reports.

Sanctions against Venezuela are still gaining steam. The Herald notes that the Trump administration is threatening to sanction all 545 members of the Constituent Assembly, one of whom is Nicolás Maduro’s wife. Administration officials have said they intend to deploy sanctions slowly, carefully, and “strategically.”

“President Maduro swore in this illegitimate Constituent Assembly to further entrench his dictatorship and continues to tighten his grip on the country. This regime’s disregard for the will of the Venezuelan people is unacceptable, and the United States will stand with them in opposition to tyranny until Venezuela is restored to a peaceful and prosperous democracy,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in announcing the new sanctions.

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