Venezuela's Maduro affirms new legislative body as all powerful

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The United States sanctioned President Nicolas Maduro and other Venezuelan officials after Maduro established a constituent assembly run by his Socialist Party loyalists and cracked down on widespread opposition.

"The foreign minister should enter into negotiations to arrange [my] personal meeting with Donald Trump or a phone conversation with Donald Trump", Maduro said in parliament, as quoted by the Panorama newspaper.

We can't allow "the dictatorship to hunt down, imprison and treat our mayors like criminals", said Andres Paez, a lawyer who joined the protest.

He told the newly elected constituent assembly that he wanted "a personal conversation" when the two leaders attended the UN General Assembly in NY next month.

"If [Trump] is so interested in Venezuela, here I am", he said during his address to the assembly. "Mr Donald Trump, here is my hand", he said.

Washington imposed sanctions on eight Venezuelan officials on Wednesday for their role in creating an all-powerful legislative body loyal to President Nicolas Maduro.

In his Thursday speech at the Constituent Assembly، Maduro "subordinated" himself to the supreme body، recognizing it as Venezuela's most powerful legal institution.

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The Cuban president warns Nicolas Maduro that as a result of the holding of the elections to the Constituent Assembly "will come days of strong struggle, of worldwide harassment, blockades, limitations".

The new legislature, the Constituent Assembly, has already thrown out the Attorney General, a critic of Maduro, while the Supreme Court sentenced another political opponent to 15 months in prison.

These follow last month's U.S. sanctions on Venezuela over the election of a loyalist legislative superbody that has the power to rewrite the constitution, which Washington called "illegitimate" and in service of a "dictator".

The UN Human Rights Council announced on Tuesday that the Venezuelan security forces have used excessive force to suppress street protests, killed dozens of people and arrested approximately 5.000 people since April.

Experts say individual sanctions have had little or no impact on Maduro's policies and that broader oil-sector and financial sanctions may be the only way to make the Venezuelan government feel economic pain.

Polls suggest the opposition would win most of the states, if the elections are fair, replicating its landslide 2015 victory in taking control of the National Assembly. Maduro claims it will help reconcile and bring peace to the nation.

Another ally is Iran, which has shown support for the new assembly, even if ties are not as strong as they once were under former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

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