Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ignored the threat of US sanctions to proceed with a controversial election aimed at rewriting the country’s constitution, raising the specter of a ban on US oil purchases that could turn the cash-starved nation into a failed state.
The 545 members of the newly elected National Constituent Assembly that will rewrite Venezuela’s constitution are made up of mostly Maduro supporters, including his wife, Bloomberg reported. Their rewrite of the constitution is widely expected to move the country further toward autocratic rule.
Citing a “red line” set by US President Donald Trump, an expert from the political consultancy Control Risks said some form of US sanctions are now virtually inevitable. But there have already been calls to focus on Venezuelan officials rather than taking broad measures like a ban on oil purchases, which would hurt ordinary people as badly as they do Maduro.
Police clashed with demonstrators seeking to stop the polls and as many as 15 people were killed, according to opposition leader Henrique Capriles.
Colombia, Peru, Argentina and Panama issued statements saying they wouldn’t recognize the vote.