POLITICS

Venezuela's legislature gives Maduro decree power to fight 'U.S. imperialism’

A supporter of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds a poster showing a defaced photograph of U.S. President Barack Obama during a pro-government rally outside Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, March 15, 2015. Venezuela's parliament approved on Sunday a law giving President Nicolas Maduro the power to legislate by decree for nine months in the face of what he describes as threats by the U.S. government. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

A supporter of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds a poster showing a defaced photograph of U.S. President Barack Obama during a pro-government rally outside Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, March 15, 2015. Venezuela's parliament approved on Sunday a law giving President Nicolas Maduro the power to legislate by decree for nine months in the face of what he describes as threats by the U.S. government. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

The Venezuelan parliament on Sunday approved a law giving President Nicolás Maduro the power to legislate by decree for nine months in the face of what he described as threats by the U.S. government.

The so-called "anti-imperialist" law will be in effect from the time it is published in Venezuela's Official Gazette until Dec. 31.

Maduro requested the expanded powers in response to new U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan officials accused of human rights violations. Critics of Venezuela's government have called the move a power grab.

The U.S. is targeting officials in the top echelon of Venezuela's security apparatus responsible for cracking down on last year's anti-government protests and for pursuing charges against opponents. The officials will be denied U.S. visas and have their U.S. assets frozen.

The leaders of South America's leftist governments have come out in support of Venezuela, while Washington has denied Maduro's claim that it is seeking to undermine his government and urged him to focus on Venezuela's domestic problems, including food shortages and soaring inflation.

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