- The Washington Times - Monday, January 6, 2020

U.S. special envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams said on Monday that Washington is considering hitting the country with additional sanctions after the country’s ruling socialist party, led by Nicolas Maduro, moved to undermine the opposition-dominated national legislature.

In a press conference at the State Department, Mr. Abrams said the U.S. is exploring alternative ways to support democracy in Venezuela as well as Juan Guaido, the opposition leader the U.S. and many countries consider the country’s legitimate interim president, after a year of failed efforts to oust Mr. Maduro.

Just one day prior, government military officers blocked Mr. Guaido and opposition supporters from entering parliament in Caracas.

“This is a struggle against a regime that, as we saw yesterday, will do anything to prevent the return of democracy,” Mr. Abrams said, adding that the U.S. will ask other governments to “step up and do more in support of democrats and democratic institutions in Venezuela.”

The Maduro regime’s move to block Mr. Guaido’s access was quickly condemned by U.S. lawmakers who have voiced continuing support of the interim president, who has been recognized as Venezuela’s leader by over 50 nations.

“With an increasingly dictatorial regime, now is the time to align international sanctions with current U.S. efforts to help secure a peaceful return to democracy, and ensure free and fair legislative and presidential elections in Venezuela in 2020,” said Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, in a Monday statement.

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