The Trump administration is set to impose new sanctions on members of the Venezuelan Supreme Court for stripping the opposition-led congress of all power earlier this year. Among those targeted is Maikel Moreno, the president of the pro-government Supreme Court, which issued a ruling in late March. The ruling was later partially reversed amid international criticism, but it sparked a protest movement that has continued for nearly two months and left more than 40 people dead.
On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump called the situation in Venezuela a “disgrace to humanity,” and said the deadly political crisis is possibly the worst of its kind in “decades.”
'There's great violence'
“We haven't really seen a problem like that ... in decades, in terms of the kind of violence that we're witnessing,” Trump told a joint news conference with visiting Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
“People don't have enough to eat. People have no food. There's great violence. And we will do whatever is necessary, and we will work together to do whatever is necessary, to help with fixing that. ... what is happening is really a disgrace to humanity.”
Pressure increases on Maduro
The threat of new sanctions comes as Venezuela's socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, is facing increasing international pressure to hold elections. On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council discussed the crisis in Venezuela for the first time at the request of the United States. The Washington-based Organization of American States is holding a rare foreign ministers council session on the troubled South American nation later this month.
Maduro's political foes have taken to the streets to demand that he schedule long-delayed elections, release political prisoners and permit the delivery of humanitarian aid. The demonstrations and counterdemonstrations have escalated since the socialist leader's call earlier this month for a new constitution. But Maduro repeatedly has accused the United States of leading an attempt to overthrow his government.