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  • Venezuela

    Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gestures as he arrives for an event with supporters in Caracas, Venezuela, on July 20, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

On Monday, Trump threatened to take "strong and swift economic actions" against Venezuela if it moves forward with its National Constituent Assembly.

The United States’ threat of imposing sanctions against Venezuela could backfire by reviving its image as an arrogant imperialist power in the region, a Cuban political observer said.

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"The United States does not gain very much by imposing sanctions against Venezuela and the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro," Manuel Yepe, a former diplomat and ex-director of Cuba's Prensa Latina news agency, told Xinhua on Friday.

Since April, anti-government demonstrations led by Venezuela's opposition have claimed at least 102 lives. In order to address ongoing political turmoil, President Nicolas Maduro called for the July 30 National Constituent Assembly to review and possibly revise the constitution, with complete oversight guidance from citizens. 

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump warned in a statement: "If the Maduro regime imposes its Constituent Assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions."

Maduro’s government reckons the initiative is the best way to ease current political tensions and bring about peace, but the opposition continues to claim the move is a so-called “power grab.”

While "the sanctions would make Venezuela's domestic situation worse, it would not benefit the United States to add difficulties to its cracked hegemonic power," Yepe said.

"If (the United States) goes through with it, Latin America would react in a big way," he added.

Despite the "brutal threat" from the United States, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the vote will be held as planned.

"Obviously the U.S. government is used to humiliating other nations through its international relations and thinks it is going to get the subordination it is accustomed to," the statement said. 

Yepe said the right of calling for a National Constituent Assembly is consecrated in the country's 1999 constitution and that a destabilized Venezuela is bad for Latin America.

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"The Venezuelan state has the power to do what it is doing. There is nothing illegal or punishable about it," Yepe said.

Some 150,000 Venezuelan troops will be guarding 14,515 voting stations, as the country's 20 million registered voters go to the polls on July 30.

"After the constituent (vote) we will know if it is an effective measure, because right now it is being questioned by many people," Yepe said.

On Thursday, Venezuelan opposition officials called for a nationwide "strike" as part of an effort to force Maduro out. Three people died in the unrest.

Yepe said the opposition has erred in resorting to escalating violence and disregarding the opportunities for a negotiated solution to the political crisis.

"Dialogue would be the solution that benefits everyone, especially its people, who are paying for the increasingly violent clashes with blood," he said.

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