A defiant Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro mocked the sanctions Washington slapped on him Monday after Sunday’s election of a new legislative superbody that prompted the White House to call him a dictator for “seizing absolute power.”
Oil-rich but economically ailing Venezuela awaited a fresh wave of protests against the unpopular Maduro, whose loyalist Supreme Court had already stripped the opposition-controlled congress of its powers, while the country waited to see what actions the newly-minted constituent assembly will take.
At least 10 people were killed in unrest during Sunday’s vote, bringing the death toll from four months of anti-government protests to more than 120.
Governments from Spain to Canada to Argentina and Peru joined Washington in denouncing the election, which was boycotted by the opposition and widely seen as an affront to democracy.
Maduro, hit earlier on Monday by sanctions aimed directly at him, chided U.S. President Donald Trump for winning the presidency by way of the electoral college after losing the popular vote in the November election.
“I don’t take orders from the empire,” he shouted to a televised gathering of supporters. “Keep up your sanctions, Donald Trump!”
“In the United States it’s possible to become president with 3 million votes less than your opponent. What a tremendous democracy!” Maduro told a cheering and applauding audience.
Democrat Hillary Clinton outpaced Trump by almost 2.9 million votes, according to official U.S. election results.
Maduro said the sanctions reflected Trump’s “desperation” and “hatred” for Venezuela’s socialist government.
Under the sanctions, all of Maduro’s assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction were frozen, and Americans are barred from doing business with him, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said in a statement.