Venezuela rejected President Donald Trump's call to halt a rewriting of the constitution that would consolidate the power of its socialist government, which said Tuesday that it was reviewing its relations with the United States in response to Trump's threat of sanctions.
"No foreign government controls Venezuela," President Nicolas Maduro told a nationally televised meeting of his National Defense Council, an emergency body he convened in reaction to Trump's critiques. "Here in Venezuela, Venezuelans give the orders, not Trump."
Trump threatened on Monday to take unspecified "economic actions" if Maduro goes ahead with a July 30 vote on a constituent assembly to retool the constitution. Maduro's socialist supporters want the assembly to grant him more power over the few institutions still outside the control of his ruling party.
The United States and Venezuela have had decades of tense relations, dating back to the time of Hugo Chavez, Maduro's mentor and predecessor who died in 2013. Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada said on state television that the election of assembly members will take place as planned and that Maduro has asked him to reconsider Venezuela's diplomatic relations with the U.S.
"The constitutional assembly is happening," Moncada said, adding that Venezuela is "conducting a deep review of relations with the U.S. government because we don't accept humiliation from anyone."
Trump administration officials told reporters Tuesday that they were considering a wide range of sanctions on Venezuela, including cuts in oil imports.
Trump has imposed travel bans and has frozen the assets of high-ranking officials in recent weeks, but refrained from broad sanctions against the country that could deepen its economic crisis.
Venezuela exports an average of 700,000 barrels of oil a day to the U.S., about half its total exports. Because much of the other half serves as payment of debt owed to China, a total cut in exports to the U.S. would slash Venezuelan government income by 75 percent, Angel Alvarado, a congress member and economist, told The Associated Press.
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