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Wuilly Arteaga

The White House announced new sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

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Updated July 31, 2017 04:12 PM EDT

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday said that the U.S. will impose new economic sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

"Yesterday's illegitimate elections confirm that Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the people," he said during a White House press briefing.

"By sanctioning Maduro, the United States makes clear our opposition to his regime and our support for the people of Venezuela," Mnuchin added.

"We very much believe that sanctions do work. And we hope that these sanctions make all Maduro officials reconsider how their actions have impacted their country."

Mnuchin added that the new U.S. sanctions will "freeze" all American assets linked to Maduro, noting that President Trump would have no further comment on the nation's next move against Venezuela's government.

"As I think we have said before, this president is not going to advertise what we are going to do in the future," he said. "We are not going to comment on future sanctions. As we continue to monitor this situation, we will review all of our specific options."

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added Maduro to its Specially Designated National (SDNI) sanctions list, according to The Hill.

All of Maduro's assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction are purportedly now in limbo, and American residents are prohibited from financial transactions with him.

Mnuchin would not comment on whether the U.S. would impose sanctions on Venezuela's oil industry.

Possible sanctions against Venezuela's oil sector have generated much speculation, but they could also risk worsening the South American nation's humanitarian crisis.

Updated July 31, 2017 06:22 AM EDT

President Nicolás Maduro celebrated victory and thanked "the brave people of Venezuela" after Venezuelans voted Sunday to replace the country's National Assembly with a new Constituent Assembly.

The opposition coalition, however, said 88 percent of voters abstained and refused to recognize the election, and called for more protests. Electoral officials said voter turnout was 41.5 percent.

The Constituent Assembly will be made up of 545 members, all of whom will be nominated by Maduro's administration, and will have the power to rewrite Venezuela's constitution.

"We have a Constituent Assembly. I said, come hell or high water-- and hell and high water came -- and the Constituent Assembly arrived from the hand of the people, from its conscience," Maduro said.

Maduro's proposed new assembly has sparked protests and provoked international outcry. The U.S. State Department issued a statement on Sunday saying the elections were "designed to replace the legitimately elected National Assembly and undermine the Venezuelan people's right to self-determination."

Many were injured Sunday after protesters clashed with law enforcement in the streets of Caracas.

Venezuelans are casting their ballots on Sunday to vote on whether to replace the current legislative body, the National Assembly with the Constituent Assembly.

The voting stations opened early this morning, and are being monitored by nearly 380,000 troops, according to a government statement.

Critics say Sunday's vote is crucial to Nicolás Maduro's presidency since the National Assembly is controlled by Maduro's opponents. Currently, his opponents are holding 112 of the body's 167 seats.

"It would give the government the opportunity to turn Venezuela into a one-party state without any of the trappings of democracy," says Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, a business association told CNN.

The proposed Constituent Assembly would allow Maduro's administration to nominate candidates for the assembly, including Maduro's wife, Cilia Flores and other Maduro supporters.

President Donald Trump has recently denounced Maduro's efforts to create the assembly.

"If the Maduro regime imposes its Constituent Assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions," Trump said in a statement. "The United States once again calls for free and fair elections and stands with the people of Venezuela in their quest to restore their country to a full and prosperous democracy."

The vote comes after months of Anti-government protests that have left more than 110 people dead.

Wuilly Arteaga, 23, a well known violinist in Venezuela was severely beaten with his instrument by officials after he was detained after a protest on June 20.

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Artega has been an outspoken critic of President Maduro. Despite the injuries, the musician says that he will continue to "struggle for Venezuela's independence".

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