Venezuela opposition leader blocked from traveling to UN

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles said he was barred from leaving the country Thursday as he planned to address a United Nations session in NY about the country's escalating violence.

Protesters are demanding new elections, freedom for jailed activists, foreign aid and autonomy for the opposition-led legislature, the Reuters report said. That sparked protests that have left more than 40 people dead.

Venezuela's U.N. envoy Rafael Ramirez in turn accused the United States of seeking to topple the Maduro government.

The US Treasury Department has in the past sanctioned Venezuelan officials or former officials, charging them with trafficking or corruption, a designation that allows their assets in the United States to be frozen and bars them from conducting financial transactions through the United States.

Venezuela's United Nations ambassador Rafael Ramirez accused the USA of encouraging violent elements within Venezuela seeking to topple the Maduro government.

"We haven't really seen a problem like decades, in terms of the kind of violence that we're witnessing", Trump told a joint news conference with visiting Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

The executive order issued Thursday marked the second time the US has sanctioned leaders of Venezuela's socialist government since Donald Trump became president this year.

At least 44 people have died in six weeks of unrest, which has also been fueled by anger over food shortages and soaring inflation.

Venezuelans living overseas, many of whom fled the country's economic chaos, have in recent weeks accosted visiting state officials and their family members.

"When you look at the oil reserves that they have, when you look at the potential wealth that Venezuela has, you sort of have to wonder why is that happening, how is that possible?" said Trump.

"Members of the country's supreme Court of Justice have exacerbated the situation by consistently interfering with the legislative branch's authority".

"It has been unbelievably poorly run for a long period of time, and hopefully that will change and they could use those assets for the good and to take care of their people", he said. The court's constitutional chamber declared null and void eight National Assembly laws between January and October 2016, after just one such ruling in the previous 200 years, legal experts say.

Capriles, the 44-year old leader of the center-right Justice First party, is the most prominent opponent of socialist President Nicolas Maduro. In February, the US announced it was freezing the assets of Vice President Tareck El Aissami, accusing him of playing a major role in global drug trafficking.

That day, the minister of the nation's prison system was in San Cristobal to promote Maduro's push to resolve the crisis by convening a special assembly to rewrite Venezuela's constitution, a proposal the opposition rejects.

Uruguay's United Nations ambassador Elbio Rosselli, president of the Security Council for May, said that at this point Uruguay believed the Venezuelan crisis should be handled within the region.

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