North Korea congratulated Nicolás Maduro on winning Venezuela's election


Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds up the National Electoral Council certificate declaring him the victor of the presidential election, during a ceremony at CNE headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, May 22, 2018.

Maduro declared USA charge d'affaires Todd Robinson and deputy head of mission Brian Naranjo "personae non gratae" and gave them 48 hours to leave the country, angrily rejecting U.S. economic sanctions imposed over his re-election in a nationally televised speech.

Explaining the sanctions in a statement, Trump said, "We call for the Maduro regime to restore democracy, hold free and fair elections, release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally, and end the repression and economic deprivation of the Venezuelan people".

"These sanctions that the USA is imposing...are preventing the Venezuelan government from borrowing any additional funds on worldwide markets... making it hard for them to really fund any sort of economic recovery", said Alexander Maine of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in an interview with RT. On Friday, the US Treasury blacklisted influential Maduro supporter Diosdado Cabello, his wife Marleny and his brother Jose, alleging they were running a "corruption network" based on illegal drug trade. "We are now watching a play entitled "The overthrow of President Maduro", the expert said.

Maduro won 68 percent of votes - more than three times as many as his main rival Henri Falcon.

He promised to spend the next two years before scheduled congressional elections repairing an economy he says has been badly damaged by mafias backed by Colombia and the U.S.

Mr. Robinson, the chargé d'affaires ordered expelled Tuesday, is a career diplomat who arrived in Caracas last December after serving as the United States ambassador to Guatemala.

He has also made several forceful calls for the release of US citizen Joshua Holt, who has been jailed for more than two years without trial on weapons charges.

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US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan warned of the possibility of an oil embargo against Venezuela. "If the Venezuelan authorities manage to take some retaliatory steps to oppose economic blackmail and pressure, then the USA may continue its efforts to incite the public and whip up a civil war because the people are already divided in two", he noted.

Venezuela and the US haven't exchanged ambassadors since 2010.

The sanctions imposed past year have already had a devastating effect on Venezuela's oil sector, Cardenas and Kronick pointed out.

Given Maduro's iron grip on the military and on most of the country's important political institutions, many observers outside of Venezuela agree that any solution will likely require a regime change.

In recent months, Washington has imposed a series of sanctions on companies and individuals with ties to the Maduro government. We therefore denounce the Venezuelan Presidential election, and its result, as it is not representative of the democratic will of the citizens of Venezuela. According to Kronick, when Hugo Chavez became Venezuela's president in 1999, the country was producing 3.5 million barrels of oil a day. Beijing said on Tuesday it believed the United States and Venezuela should resolve their differences via talks, while Moscow said it would not comply with the sanctions.

White House officials unveiled the latest executive order against Maduro less than 24 hours after the embattled populist leader secured another six-year term in an election that drew claims of voter fraud and corruption.

Washington has previously slapped sanctions on the president and his senior aides, and banned U.S. entities from buying any more debt from Caracas or state oil company PDVSA.

Thousands of Venezuelans have fled their country due to crippling economic conditions and shortages of food, water, and medical resources.

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