United States sanctions Venezuela's Maduro

U.S. imposes sanctions against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, calls him "dictator" after controversial election.

Ben Ariel ,

Nicolas Maduro
Nicolas Maduro

The United States on Monday imposed sanctions against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The sanctions freeze all of Maduro’s assets in the U.S., and prohibit Americans from dealing with him.

The move came come a day after the Maduro government held controversial elections for a National Constituent Assembly (ANC) that “aspires illegitimately to usurp the constitutional role of the democratically elected National Assembly, rewrite the constitution, and impose an authoritarian regime on the people of Venezuela,” the Treasury said in a statement.

“As such, it represents a rupture in Venezuela's constitutional and democratic order. The Maduro administration has proceeded with the ANC even though Venezuelans and democratic governments worldwide have overwhelmingly opposed it as a fundamental assault on the freedoms of the Venezuelan people. The creation of the ANC follows years of Maduro's efforts to undermine Venezuela's democracy and the rule of law,” the statement added.

"Yesterday's illegitimate elections confirm that Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people. By sanctioning Maduro, the United States makes clear our opposition to the policies of his regime and our support for the people of Venezuela who seek to return their country to a full and prosperous democracy," said Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin.

"Anyone who participates in this illegitimate ANC could be exposed to future U.S. sanctions for their role in undermining democratic processes and institutions in Venezuela," he added.

Maduro, who was elected President of Venezuela in 2013 following the death of former President Hugo Chavez, on Monday hailed the election, describing it as “the biggest vote the revolution has ever scored in its 18-year history.”

The National Electoral Council claimed more than 40 percent of Venezuela's 20 million voters had cast ballots Sunday, AFP reported, but the opposition said voter turnout was closer to 12 percent.

The outspoken Maduro has insulted his political opponents as "heirs to Hitler" in the past, and has been frequently accused of anti-Semitism.

In 2014, he twice expelled American diplomats from Venezuela, claiming they were encouraging protests against him by opposition groups.