Venezuela's ANC Calls for Presidential Elections in April

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Maduro's unpopularity rating has risen to 70 per cent as his oil-rich country slipped inexorably into a severe economic crisis compounded by corruption and the fall in the price of crude. Cabello has not been targeted by US sanctions. But the move stokes tensions between Washington and Caracas just as USA relations with Cuba, a longtime US foe in Latin America and key ally to Venezuela, are set to be normalized.

"If the world wants to apply sanctions, we will apply elections", Cabello told the Assembly, created past year to usurp the power of the opposition-dominated legislature. After leading street protests that turned violent and demonstrated the level of popular discontent, the opposition quickly lost steam as Mr.

Maduro seemed unfazed by the threat of more worldwide rebuke. "Certainly the people would have to decide".

The EU Foreign Affairs Council justified the measure by claiming that the government functionaries "are involved in the non-respect of democratic principles or the rule of law as well as in the violation of human rights".

"We are deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government's efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents", he added.

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"Today the European Union has again shown irrefutable evidence of its notable subordination to the racist government of (U.S. President) Donald Trump", Venezuela's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The National Constituent Assembly of Venezuela, consisting only of officers, has approved on Tuesday a decree that states that presidential elections scheduled for this year will be held before 30 April. Washington responded by expelling Venezuelan envoy Bernardo Alvarez. Antonio Jose Benavides; elections chief Tibisay Lucena Ramirez; and head of the national intelligence agency Gustavo Enrique Gonzalez.

The White House also called on Venezuela to release all political prisoners. They often bicker over their own strategies and decisions that have affected most poor Venezuelans. It was Cabello, seen as Maduro's biggest internal rival, who earlier Tuesday proposed holding the election by the end of April, saying it was the best way to counter criticism by the United States and others that Venezuela is descending into dictatorship. That has since prompted much of the worldwide community to label him a dictator.

"Venezuela calls on the European Union to reflect and rectify because our independence is sacred, our institutions legitimate", he said.

Billionaire Lorenzo Mendoza, president of Venezuela's largest private food production company, Empresas Polar, speaks during a news conference in Caracas on February 2, 2016.

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