The U.S. may consider new sanctions against Venezuela in response to President Nicolas Maduro’s announcement that he will seek to rewrite his country’s constitution.
The Venezuelan government has “decided once again to change the rules of the game in mid-play,” Michael Fitzpatrick, U.S. deputy assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said Tuesday on a reporter call. “The actions that were taken yesterday may well give us new reasons for considering additional individualized sanctions under the Venezuela Democracy Act of 2014."
Maduro on Monday called for a citizens assembly to draft a new constitution, in a move that was internationally condemned as an “illegal power grab” to circumvent the opposition-led National Assembly legislature.
The announcement came after another day of anti-government protests in Caracas that have claimed at least 30 lives over the past month. The U.S. urged the protesters to express themselves nonviolently. Fitzpatrick said the U.S. wants Venezuela to hold free and fair elections.
Fitzpatrick said the U.S. is still trying to figure out potential mediation efforts to bring the government and opposition-led parties back together. Getting the two sides to talk is “what’s going to bring Venezuela out of its crises one way or the other,” he said. “At some point there will have to be dialogue.”