Venezuela Slams Opposition's Statement Supporting Sanctions

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The sanctions also come just weeks after the U.S. President Donald Trump issued a military threat against Venezuela.

Venezuela has been wracked by months of political crisis. Trump had previously threatened military action against Venezuela, comments that feed Maduro's claim that the USA could be behind an invasion of the oil-rich country.

"We must be clear, especially for the youth in the military, that we must close ranks within the homeland - that this is no time for any fissures and that those with doubts should leave the armed forces immediately", he said in a speech to the top military brass.

A senior administration official in Washington told reporters that the USA was trying "to create a series of escalatory measures that we can take".

Following Trump's statement earlier this month, where the president stated that a "military option" to resolve Venezuela's situation was not off the table, even right-wing allies in Latin America condemned the military threat.

Valderrama said he was there to learn "to defend my country and my family".

Maduro, the political heir to the late Hugo Chavez, has managed to hang onto power through it all, despite food shortages and social upheaval. His power is largely due to the support of the military, who have great powers in the state.

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The opposition has repeatedly called on the army to abandon Maduro - so far to no avail. "They ratify an imperial road of aggression".

On Thursday, the president warned the armed forces not to break ranks.

"Never before has Venezuela been threatened in such a way".

That could choke off access to NY debt markets and raise the risk of Venezuela being forced into default. As well, they are not allowed to made new transactions with the Venezuelan oil company, PDVSA, as the administration deems that such businesses fuel Nicolas Maduro's dictatorship. Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez inaugurated the exercises Saturday at a National Guard facility in eastern Caracas where dozens of snipers practiced their aim. They marched for a couple of blocks in Havana's Vedado neighborhood and they asked Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to "go hard" against Trump.

The number of people killed in the protest exceeded 110 people.

On Friday, he accused opposition leaders in his country of pushing for the U.S. sanctions and called for legislative speaker Julio Borges to be tried for treason.

He singled out the president of Venezuela's congress, Julio Borges, as being the "mastermind" of the financial and economic "blockade" and called on the government-stacked supreme court and a new, all-powerful constitutional assembly to initiate proceedings against opponents who have lobbied in favor of the sanctions.