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Saturday 11th
posted by James Tweedie in World

WASHINGTON placed new sanctions on 10 Venezuelan individuals on Thursday for alleged fraud in last month’s regional elections.

The US Treasury Department sanctions freeze any assets the affected officials have in US jurisdictions and bar US citizens from doing business with them.

They include National Electoral Council officials Socorro Hernandez, Sandra Oblitas and Carlos Quintero and former communications and food ministers Ernesto Villegas and Carlos Osorio.

Second vice-president of the national constituent assembly Elvis Hidrobo and Venezuela’s ambassador to Italy Julian Rodriguez were also named.

The US sanctioned other electoral officials over the July 30 election to the constituent assembly, which the opposition boycotted.

The sanctions were in response to claims by the right-wing opposition of fraud.

The ruling Socialist Party won 18 of 23 governorships in the October 15 election, which a large contingent of international observers said were free and fair.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza rejected the latest round of individual sanctions as “part of the US government’s systematic campaign of aggression.”

He said: “Venezuela is a free, independent and sovereign country that will permanently exercise its right to self-determination.”

Meanwhile the constituent assembly passed a new law obliging the media to “prevent and eradicate every form of violence, hate and intolerance.”

“This is a law that promotes peaceful coexistence,” said the assembly’s president Delcy Rodriguez. “Something that the world needs precisely in these moments when the imperial powers threaten with more war.”

But opposition members and US-based Human Rights Watch, which has long opposed Venezuela’s socialist government, claimed it was an attack on free speech.