U.S. lawmakers expect more sanctions on
Venezuela over vote
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[July 29, 2017]
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican U.S.
lawmakers said on Friday they expected Washington would announce more
sanctions on Venezuela if its government proceeds with an effort to
elect a legislative body that critics call a plan to create a
Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who has worked closely with President
Donald Trump's administration on Latin American issues, held a news
conference with two other Republican members of Congress, all from
Florida, to discuss the issue ahead of the controversial vote in
Venezuela on Sunday.
Julio Borges, who leads Venezuela's opposition-led National Assembly
legislature, telephoned in to the news conference to discuss the vote.
Rubio noted that the Trump administration had announced sanctions this
week, and added, "You can expect more."
The Trump administration imposed sanctions on 13 senior Venezuelan
officials on Wednesday, heaping pressure on unpopular President Nicolas
Maduro to scrap plans for the new congress.
A senior Trump administration official told Reuters this week that the
administration would make good on Trump's threat to take action and
would act "very quickly" on further sanctions if Maduro goes ahead with
Another lawmaker at the news conference, U.S. Representative Mario
Diaz-Balart, said he hoped Maduro will "take a deep breath" and back
off. "If they don't, the United States will not stand still," he said.
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Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) makes an opening statement prior to
Organization of American States President Luis Almagro testifying
before a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the ongoing crisis
in Venezuela on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 19, 2017.
REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Rubio insisted the United States was not seeking to dictate to
Venezuela. "What unifies us today in this cause isn't interference
in another country's affairs, but support for its people," he said.
Rubio said Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin had been involved
in the issue, and that Trump had spoken to Secretary of State Rex
Tillerson about Venezuela this week.
Rubio said he had spoken to Trump three times this month about
Venezuela and that he had spoken to Vice President Mike Pence about
it on Thursday and earlier in the week as well.
"There is high-level engagement throughout this administration on
this issue," Rubio said.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle Additional reporting by Matt
Spetalnick; Editing by James Dalgleish)
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