Venezuela’s all-powerful constitutional assembly has passed a decree ordering authorities to investigate and try those believed responsible for supporting new US economic sanctions.
The decree passed on Tuesday declares all those who promoted the latest US response to the political conflict in Venezuela as “traitors of the patria”.
The move comes days after Venezuela’s president vowed to prosecute for treason opponents he accused of being behind the financial sanctions.
“We accept the call of President Nicolas Maduro to initiate, together with the competent state authorities, a historical judgment of treason against those engaged in the promotion of these immoral actions against the interests of the Venezuelan people,” said Diosdado Cabello, a senior member of the body.
Former Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, who now presides over the assembly, said it would urge the chief prosecutor and the Supreme Court to initiate investigations.
During the nearly three hours of debate, members accused opposition politicians of supporting the sanctions and brought out a communique issued by the opposition in which they allegedly celebrate the sanctions by the government of US President Donald Trump.
President Nicolas Maduro has singled out Julio Borges, president of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress.
The sanctions announced last week prohibit American financial institutions from providing new money to the government or the state oil company, PDVSA.
Borges said on Tuesday that Maduro is the only one responsible for Venezuela’s crisis.
Venezuela’s new constituent assembly earlier this month gave itself the power to pass laws, superseding the opposition-led congress and heightening criticism by government adversaries that Maduro is consolidating a dictatorship.
Maduro pushed for the creation of the constituent assembly on promises it would bring peace to Venezuela after months of violent street protests that have killed more than 125 people.
Critics say the assembly was created to extend the rule of the Socialists, who face anger across the country over chronic food shortages, triple-digit inflation and a severe recession.
The socialist president accuses his opponents of waging an “economic war” against the country, with help from the United States.
Moscow on Monday slammed the US sanctions, saying they were aimed at damaging the Latin American nation’s economy and aggravating tensions.
But French President Emmanuel Macron accused Maduro of creating a “dictatorship” in one of the harshest condemnations yet of the South American regime by a European leader.