In an attempt to pressure Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro into canceling this Sunday's election to choose members of an assembly that will rewrite the country's constitution, the United States on Wednesday imposed new sanctions on 13 current and former government officials, military officers, and managers at the state-run oil company.
They are being accused of undermining democracy, corruption, and alleged human rights abuses, The Guardian reports. The targeted officials include Nestor Reverol, who in 2016 was indicted in the U.S. on drug trafficking charges and the next day was promoted to interior ministry for security; army chief Jesus Suarez; and national police director Carlos Perez. Maduro said the Venezuelan government does not "recognize any sanctions," and the vote is still on.
Opposition leaders are boycotting the vote, which they believe will push Venezuela into an authoritarian regime; Maduro said instead, it will usher in peace following months of deadly anti-government protests.