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Venezuela threatens lawsuit against U.S. over sanctions

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CARACASVenezuelan President Nicolas Madurothreatened to sue the United States over a declaration that his country is a threat to U.S. national security.

In a televised address Thursday, he said his lawsuit would expose the “international illegality” of the executive order signed in March by U.S. President Barack Obama. The order identified Venezuela as an extraordinary threat and placed sanctions against seven Venezuelan government officials accused of human rights violations in a crackdown against protesters in 2014.

 Maduro claimed a petition circulated in his country, condemning the sanctions, has 11 million signatories. On television, he referred to the U.S. action as “the Sword of Damocles,” but did not specify which U.S. court would see his lawsuit.

Last week, the Venezuelan central bank filed a lawsuit seeking the shutdown of DollarToday, a website allegedly operated by Venezuelan exiles in the United States, which publishes the black-market value of the bolivar, the collapsing Venezuelan currency. The suit alleges the website is destabilizing the Venezuelan economy and damaging the reputation of the government.

Tensions have risen between Venezuela and the United States since the 2014 protests were suppressed. But a Dec. 6 national election could decide if Washington will take further action. Maduro’s ruling United Socialist Party is being blamed for Venezuela’s food shortages and triple-digit rate of inflation, and voters could punish incumbents at the ballot box. The party has led Venezuela for 16 years.

Thomas Shannon, nominee for U.S. undersecretary of state, said, “So much of our own relationship with Venezuela will depend on what happens around the legislative elections and what happens on the issue of political prisoners.”