New sanctions coming for Venezuela officials

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BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - The U.S. has slapped new sanctions on eight members of Venezuela's Supreme Court, accusing them of abusing power and damaging their nation's democratic fabric as the Trump administration raises concerns that socialist President Nicolas Maduro is moving toward one-party, authoritarian rule. Capriles, who is seen as the opposition's best hope of defeating President Nicolas Maduro in elections next year, has been at the forefront of demands for a presidential recall referendum.

Hundreds have been injured and dozens killed in anti-government protests in Venezuela.

The military operation comes as President Nicolas Maduro faces mounting worldwide pressure to hold elections and refrain from using tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters.

Protests against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro have unleashed a witch hunt overseas, with groups of emigrants identifying government-linked Venezuelans on social media and targeting them with insults and booing.

Speaking in Washington alongside visiting President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, Venezuela 's neighbor, Trump called the humanitarian situation "a disgrace to humanity" and promised to help fix it, but he offered no new USA approach.

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Senator Ted Cruz was among the first US lawmakers to react to news of the sanctions.

"I have to respect the decision and we are friends; we are friends of Barbados".

Mobs looted shops and fought security forces overnight in Venezuela's restive western region, where three soldiers were being charged on Thursday with the shooting death of a man who was buying diapers for his baby, witnesses said.

"The US meddling stimulates the action of violent groups in Venezuela", he said, after showing photos of vandalism and violence he blamed on opposition groups.

The opposition has accused the government of violently repressing protests by Venezuelans demanding early elections to remove Maduro from power.

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The new administration has sought to forge a united front with Latin American countries to pressure the Venezuela government.

"In the recent past they had discussions about the two countries and the president [gave] the reasons why things are happening in Venezuela and the Honourable Freundel Stuart heard what he was saying", Perez said. He called Venezuela's problems a domestic matter and said Maduro's government is trying to resolve them and will not allow any outside interference. But near-daily anti-government protests were triggered by the ruling and have continued across the country, with more than 40 people killed.

OPEC member Venezuela officially said on Tuesday that it is supporting the proposal for a nine-month extension of the deal.

Moreno, while not directly involved in those decisions, has defended them and from the bench also upheld a almost 14-year sentence for opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez a day after Trump called for his release at a White House meeting with Lopez's wife.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned on Wednesday that if the situation was left to escalate it could lead to a major worldwide crisis like in Syria. The Organization of Americas States will hold an emergency ministerial meeting on May 31 to address the crisis.

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