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US imposes more sanctions on Venezuela individuals

The United States has imposed sanctions on eight more individuals in Venezuela, including the brother of the country's late president Hugo Chavez.

The penalties focus on current or former Venezuelan government officials accused by the US of supporting President Nicolas Maduro's creation of a constituent assembly.

That body has been given the job of rewriting Venezuela's constitution, in what the US has said was an attempt by Mr Maduro to solidify his hold on power.

The assembly, formed by a July 30 election, has declared itself superior to all other government institutions and has ousted Venezuela's outspoken chief prosecutor.

"President Maduro swore in this illegitimate constituent assembly to further entrench his dictatorship, and continues to tighten his grip on the country," US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

Many of those targeted by the US are regional representatives on the new assembly, including Adan Chavez, the brother of Venezuela's former leader, who died in 2013. Adan Chavez has been appointed secretary of the new assembly and is also a former governor and minister in Venezuela's government.

The sanctions freeze any assets the individuals may have in the US and prevent Americans from doing business with the Venezuelans.

The US has said the vote to create the assembly was illegitimate and a sign that Mr Maduro is trying to strengthen what the US calls his dictatorship.

Last week, the US targeted Mr Maduro with sanctions, in a rare action against a foreign head of state. Those sanctions followed a previous round, days before the planned vote, that hit 13 current or former top officials in Mr Maduro's government.

AP

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