CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela’s socialist government on Monday claimed a popular mandate to dramatically recast the country’s political system even as condemnations of the process poured in from governments around the world and the opposition at home.
The United States added President Nicolas Maduro to a steadily growing list of high-ranking Venezuelan officials targeted by financial sanctions — escalating a tactic that has so far failed to alter the Venezuelan government’s behavior. The Trump administration backed away from earlier threats to sanction Venezuela’s oil industry — a move that could undermine Maduro’s government but raise U.S. gas prices and deepen Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis.
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Electoral authorities said more than 8 million people voted Sunday to create a constitutional assembly endowing Maduro’s ruling party with virtually unlimited powers — a figure widely disputed by independent analysts.
The official result would mean the ruling party won more support than it had in any national election since 2013, despite a cratering economy, spiraling inflation, shortages of medicine and malnutrition. Opinion polls showed 85 percent of Venezuelans disapproved of the constitutional assembly and similar numbers…
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