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US imposes sanctions on more Venezuelan officials

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration imposed sanctions on eight more Venezuelans involved in President Nicolás Maduro's creation of a new constituent assembly that could rewrite the constitution and dissolve state institutions.

Among those penalized were Adan Coromoto Chavez Frias, who was appointed secretary of the presidential commission for the constituent assembly, and Tania D'Amelio Cardiet, a rector of Venezuela's National Electoral Council. The U.S. sanctioned 13 senior Venezuelan officials and Maduro in July.

The Treasury Department said the U.S. assets of the targeted individuals will be frozen and U.S. persons will be prohibited from dealing with them.

"President Maduro swore in this illegitimate constituent assembly to further entrench his dictatorship, and continues to tighten his grip on the country," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. "This regime's disregard for the will of the Venezuelan people is unacceptable, and the United States will stand with them in opposition to tyranny until Venezuela is restored to a peaceful and prosperous democracy."

The controversial assembly opened on Aug. 4 despite strong international criticism. It later dismissed state prosecutor Luisa Ortega, who had started an investigation into claims that Maduro's government manipulated the election for the assembly.

Meanwhile, Venezuela's main business chamber, Fedecamaras, said in an investment summit that the economy will shrink 7% to 10% in 2017, Reuters reported. The International Monetary Fund previously said the country's GDP will dive 12% this year, down from an earlier forecast of a 7.4% decline.

Inflation quickened to 248.6% in the first seven months of 2017 amid the political uncertainty, lack of U.S. dollars in the country and a weakening bolivar currency, the opposition-led congress claimed, Reuters also reported. Maduro's government has not released official data for over a year.

Political unrest has claimed more than 100 lives since April. Venezuela, an OPEC member country, controls what, by some estimates, are the world's largest oil reserves.