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Venezuela Gives Maduro Power to Rule

FILE - Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuela's parliament granted President Nicolas Maduro new powers Sunday, enabling him to legislate by decree until the end of the year. He says parliament's action Sunday allows him to defend the country from threats from the U.S. government.

Maduro asked for the expanded powers after the U.S. placed sanctions on several Venezuelan officials accused of human rights violations.

Opposition leaders say the new powers are nothing more than a power grab designed to detract attention from Venezuela's domestic issues, including food shortages.

The president said he has prepared a letter for "the people of the United States," denouncing what he said is U.S. aggression in Venezuela.

“I have a letter ready for the people of the United States and President Obama telling them the truths of Venezuela, denouncing the aggression of the decree that he signed, demanding in the moral name of the people of Bolivar that Barack Obama repeals the presidential decree that threatens our country,” said Maduro.