US sanctions Venezuela officials, Trump slams Maduro

Posted September 30, 2018

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro says he's arrived in NY for a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, where his government has been sharply criticized.

A group of Latin American countries and Canada said on Wednesday they had asked the International Criminal Court to investigate Venezuela's government over allegations of crimes against humanity in using force to repress political opponents.

Meanwhile, Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the situation in Venezuela "is one of our foreign policy priorities", and Ottawa is urging action to help with the growing refugee crisis and its impact on neighboring Colombia.

Venezuela has been in a dire economic crisis since 2014.

Venezuela's President, Nicholas Maduro, has said that he is willing to reach out to his United States counterpart and discuss mutual grievances.

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Upon arrival, Maduro held meetings with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov - both of whose countries, like Venezuela, are under USA financial sanctions. Fernando Cutz, who served as South America adviser for the National Security Council, said during an event Monday that a "multilateral military intervention could be the best solution for Venezuela".

He nevertheless said he hoped to meet with Trump face to face.

At the podium in the U.N. General Assembly where Trump had bashed him a day earlier, Maduro did not soften his tone or his message.

At a news conference, Trudeau steered clear of direct criticism of Trump, and said Canada and the USA share concern about the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

He said the options include "the strong ones and the less than strong ones - and you know what I mean by strong".

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He went on to say that such conflict between his government and the USA administration goes beyond the current issue to a more historical confrontation between imperialism and the struggle for sovereignty. Further, the United States calls on the Maduro regime to immediately allow worldwide aid, including food and medicine, to reach Venezuela at a sufficient scale to meet growing humanitarian needs. "Today we are announcing additional sanctions against he oppressive regime targeting Maduro's inner circle and close advisers".

He was referring to Trump's speech Tuesday in which the US president outlined the rationale for his more unilateral "America-first" policy.

Earlier in the day, Trump said he'd be willing to meet his longtime foe, but the White House said there were no immediate plans for such an encounter.

"If he (Maduro) is here and he wants to meet - it was not on my mind, it was not on my plate, but if I can help people, that's what I'm here for", he added. If the US upheld democracy, Morales said, "it would not have financed coup d'etats and supported dictators" or threatened democratically elected governments as it has in Venezuela with military intervention.

The request - announced on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly - also bolsters the idea that worldwide bodies can hold corrupt or abusive leaders or governments responsible before their citizens.

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