May 20, 2019

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Venezuela in crisis: All the latest updates | News

Venezuela in crisis: All the latest updates | News
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Venezuela has plunged into a major political crisis amid a growing row over President Nicolas Maduro’s future as the country’s leader. 

Maduro started a second term on January 10, following a widely boycotted election last year that many foreign governments refused to recognise.

On January 23, Juan Guaido, leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself interim president.

Shortly after Guaido took an oath swearing himself in, US President Donald Trump publicly recognised him as the country’s leader. 

Maduro accused Guaido of staging a coup and ordered his arrest.

Here are all the latest updates as of Wednesday, May 1:

Pompeo to speak with Russian counterpart 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was scheduled to speak with his Russian counterpart on Wednesday, White House national security adviser John Bolton said in television interviews.

Bolton would not elaborate on what the United States knew about Russian involvement affecting Maduro’s plans, but he made clear Moscow’s interference was not welcome.

US military action in Venezuela ‘possible’: Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the administration of President Donald Trump was prepared to take military action to stem the crisis in Venezuela.

“The president has been crystal clear and incredibly consistent. Military action is possible. If that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do,” Pompeo said on Fox Business Network.

‘Information war’

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has rejected a suggestion by Washington that it had persuaded Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro not to flee in the face of street protests, calling the assertion part of an information war.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a US television interview that Maduro was prepared to leave the country in the face of a call for an uprising by opposition leader Juan Guaido, but reversed his plan after Russia intervened.

When asked to comment on Pompeo’s comments, Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, told Reuters they were part of an “information war”.

Tuesday, April 30

Maduro declares victory over ‘coup’ plotters

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro declared he had “defeated” an uprising of a group of soldiers backing opposition leader Juan Guaido, downplaying the effort as “putschist skirmishes”.

During a televised appearance on Tuesday, Maduro congratulated the armed forces for having “defeated this small group that intended to spread violence through putschist skirmishes”.

‘Various’ Venezuelan troops seek asylum in Brazil embassy: official

A number of Venezuelan troops have sought asylum in Brazil’s embassy in Caracas, a senior Brazilian official said Tuesday, after Venezuela’s self-declared president Juan Guaido claimed soldiers had joined him.

A source in Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s office confirmed to AFP there had been “various applications” from Venezuelan soldiers, but would not say how many or what ranks. Brazilian media reported 25 had applied so far.

White House: All options on the table

The White House says it hopes an attempted military uprising in Venezuela will be “enough to tip” leader Nicolas Maduro out of power.

National Security Adviser John Bolton says Tuesday that what’s happening “is clearly not a coup” because the US and many other countries recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president.

Bolton declined to discuss possible action – military or otherwise – by the US Bolton says only that “all options are on the table.”

EU calls for ‘utmost restraint’ in Venezuela crisis

The European Union on Tuesday called for “utmost restraint” in the Venezuela crisis, as the government vowed to put down what it called an attempted coup by US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido.

“The EU is closely following the latest events in Venezuela. We reiterate that there can only be a political, peaceful and democratic way out for the multiple crises the country is facing,” EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

Leopoldo Lopez seeks asylum in Chile embassy: official

A Chilean official said that opposition activist Leopoldo Lopez and family have sought refuge in ambassador’s residence in Venezuela.

Brazil sees point of no return in Venezuela

Brazil’s vice president says that the situation in Venezuela has reached a point of no return.

Former General Hamilton Mourao said Tuesday that either opposition leaders Juan Guaido and Leopoldo Lopez would “be prisoners” or President Nicolas Maduro “would be leaving”.

Mourao said, “There is no other way out of this.”

US’s Bolton presses key aides to Venezuela’s Maduro to abandon him

US National Security Adviser John Bolton on Tuesday singled out three senior aides to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro who he said must make good on commitments they purportedly made to the opposition for a peaceful transition away from Maduro’s rule.

Speaking at the White House during a day of anti-government protests in Venezuela, Bolton named Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, Supreme Court chief judge Maikel Moreno and presidential guard commander Ivan Rafael Hernandez Dala as having told the opposition that Maduro needed to give up power to opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Canada requests emergency meeting of Lima Group

Canadian Foreign Minister Freeland said she has requested an emergency meeting of the Lima Group by video conference for later on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Venezuela. 

Trump says he is monitoring Venezuela situation

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he is monitoring the situation in Venezuela very closely and reiterated U.S. support for its people as Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido moved further to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

“I am monitoring the situation in Venezuela very closely. The United States stands with the People of Venezuela and their Freedom!” Trump wrote on Twitter. 

Venezuela foreign minister denies military coup under way, blames US

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza denied there was a military coup attempt under way to oust Maduro and accused Guaido of operating under orders from the United States. 

“It is not a coup attempt from the military. This is directly planned in Washington, in the Pentagon and Department of State, and by Bolton,” Arreaza told Reuters in a phone interview from Caracas, referring to US National Security Adviser John Bolton.

“They are leading this coup and giving orders to this man (Juan) Guaido,” he said.

He said Maduro, who has been in power since 2013, was in full control of the country with the backing of the military.

“He is in his place of command as always, and he is in control of the situation. He is making government decisions as he does every day,” said Arreaza, adding that he had spoken to Maduro four or five times on Tuesday.

Turkey’s Erdogan condemns ‘coup attempt’ in Venezuela

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday condemned a “coup attempt” in Venezuela after self-proclaimed opposition leader Juan Guaido said he had the support of troops to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

“As a country which fought against coups and experienced the negative consequences caused by coups, we condemn the coup attempt in Venezuela,” Erdogan, a close ally of Maduro, wrote on Twitter.

“The entire world must respect the people’s democratic preferences in Venezuela.”

National Guard vehicle slams into protesters 

A National Guard armored car slammed into anti-Maduro protesters who were throwing stones and hitting the vehicle in Caracas, video footage from Reuters showed. 

An opposition demonstrator runs before being struck by a Venezuelan National Guard (GNB) vehicle, as others watch from the side of the road, near the Generalisimo Francisco de Miranda Airbase ‘La Carlota’ in Caracas [Ueslei Marcelino/Venezuela] 

UN chief urges ‘maximum restraint’ in Venezuela to avoid violence

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urges maximum restraint in Venezuela to avoid violence, a UN spokesman said on Tuesday, after Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido called for a military uprising to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

“The Secretary-General urges all sides to exercise maximum restraint and he appeals to all stakeholders to avoid any violence and take immediate steps to restore calm,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters, adding that Guterres was available to mediate if both sides requested his help.

Venezuela defence minister says ‘act of violence partly defeated’

Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino said “acts of violence” by some members of the armed forces on Tuesday had been “partly defeated” and that the military’s top ranks remained “loyal to the constitution”.

‘We are with you!’ US says of Venezuela opposition uprising

US Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton all expressed support for the opposition as its two most prominent figures, Juan Guaido and Leopoldo Lopez, stood with soldiers and called for the people, and the security forces, to rise up against Maduro.

“We are with you!” Pence tweeted to the opposition, in the most direct message of the three. “America will stand with you until freedom & democracy are restored.”

Pompeo welcomed what the Venezuelan opposition leaders were calling “Operacion Libertad,” in hopes that the abrupt release of Lopez from house arrest and the apparent backing of uniformed soldiers would prompt more members of the security forces to abandon Maduro.

Turkey criticises Venezuelan opposition call for uprising

Turkey criticised Venezuelan opposition calls for a military uprising to oust President Nicolas Maduro, saying they amounted to a challenge to the country’s constitutional order.

“We are worried about reports that there are certain attempts against the constitutional order in Venezuela. We are against anti-democratic methods to change legitimate governments,” Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter.

Russia accuses Venezuelan opposition of resorting to violence

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the opposition in Venezuela of resorting to violence in what it said was a brazen attempt to draw the country’s armed forces into clashes.

“The radical opposition in Venezuela has once again returned to violent methods of confrontation,” the ministry said. “Instead of peacefully settling political differences, they have taken a course designed to whip up conflict, and provoke breaches of public order and clashes involving the armed forces.”

Brazil’s Bolsonaro backs Venezuela uprising 

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has expressed his nation’s “solidarity” for the people of Venezuela.

Bolsonaro wrote on his official Twitter account that the people of Venezuela are “enslaved by a dictator” and that he supports “freedom for our sister nation to finally become a true democracy.”

Mexico offers to help find peace in Venezuela

Mexico is expressing concern over possible escalation of violence and bloodshed in Venezuela.

The Foreign Relations Department has issued a statement reiterating its willingness to seek a peaceful resolution through dialogue and says it is in contact with other countries with the goal of “finding a common path.”

Maduro: Military leaders ‘have shown me total loyalty’

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro says he had spoken with military leaders and they had shown him “their total loyalty,” after opposition leader Juan Guaido said he had the support of troops to oust Maduro.

“Nerves of steel!,” Maduro said on Twitter. “I call for maximum popular mobilisation to assure the victory of peace. We will win!” 

Gunshots heard at rally outside air base

Gunshots were heard at a rally led by Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido outside a Caracas air base, Reuters witnesses said, after Guaido said earlier that troops had joined him to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

Reuters witnesses said men in military uniform, who were accompanying Guaido at the scene, were exchanging fire with soldiers acting in support of Maduro. The witnesses said the shots appeared to be live rounds.

A military member aims a gun near the Generalisimo Francisco de Miranda Airbase “La Carlota” [Manaure Quintero/Reuters]

Bolton urges military support 

US national security adviser John Bolton has appeared to back Juan Guaido’s call for support after the Venezuelan opposition leader urged Venezuelans and the military to back his effort to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

Guaido says troops join him for coup, government says it’s firmly in control

Guaido has said he had begun the “final phase” of his plan to oust President Nicolas Maduro, calling on Venezuelans and the military to back him to end Maduro’s “usurpation.”

The government dismissed any suggestion of a military insurrection.

“We reject this coup movement, which aims to fill the country with violence,” said Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino.

He said the armed forces remained “firmly in defence of the national constitution and legitimate authorities,” and that all military units across Venezuela “report normality” in their barracks and bases.

Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez tweeted that the government was confronting a small group of “military traitors” seeking to promote a coup.

Friday, April 26

US slaps sanctions on Venezuela’s foreign minister, judge

The US Treasury Department on Friday imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s foreign minister and a Venezuelan judge, according to a statement on the department’s website.

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza and a judge, Carol Padilla, were targeted over the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, the Treasury Department said, the latest in a list of officials blacklisted by US authorities for their role in President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

Venezuela’s opposition-run Congress says politician arrested

The Venezuela’s opposition-run National Assembly said on Friday that opposition politician Gilber Caro had been arrested, which it said in a Twitter post was a violation of his parliamentary immunity.

Caro had previously been jailed along with hundreds of other activists involved in protests against Maduro, according to human rights groups.

UNHCR says 21 Venezuelans missing after boat sinks in Caribbean

At least 21 Venezuelans were missing after their boat sank on the way to the Caribbean island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, the UN refugee agency said on Friday, citing information from that country’s coast guard.

The boat, the “Jhonnaly Jose”, was carrying at least 25 people from the Venezuelan coastal town of Guiria when it capsised in the early hours of Wednesday, UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch told a regular UN briefing in Geneva.

Thursday, April 25

Cuba challenges US to provide proof of Venezuela charges

Cuba challenged the Trump administration to back up its allegations that the communist government has embedded troops and intelligence agents throughout the administration of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said at a press conference on Thursday that National Security Advisor John Bolton is a “pathological liar” for saying some 20,000 Cubans sent to Venezuela were providing security support for Maduro.

Tuesday, April 23

Venezuelan opposition envoy Gustavo Tarre addresses OAS

A Venezuelan opposition envoy has addressed the Organization of the American States (OAS) from the South American country’s seat, the first time it has happened in two decades.

Gustavo Tarre delivered a speech during a session held by the OAS’s Permanent Council on Tuesday, three months after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself an interim leader.

Ambassadors from at least four Caribbean countries left the room before Tarre spoke, showing their opposition to his recognition as Venezuela’s representative to the OAS.

Friday, April 19

Venezuela’s Guaido calls for ‘largest march in country’s history’

United States-backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Friday called on supporters to take to the streets on May 1 for what he called “the largest march in the history” of the South American country to keep the pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to leave power.

Guaido, the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly – who in January invoked the constitution to declare himself interim president on the basis that Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate – reiterated his call for the country’s armed forces to take his side in the three-month power struggle.

Thursday, April 18

Venezuela skirts US sanctions by ‘funneling oil sales via Russia’

President Nicolas Maduro is funnelling cash flow from Venezuelan oil sales through Russian state energy giant Rosneft as he seeks to evade US sanctions designed to remove him from power, according to sources and documents reviewed by Reuters news agency.

The sales are the latest sign of the growing dependence of Venezuela’s cash-strapped government on Russia as the United States tightens a financial noose around Maduro.

Tuesday, April 16

First Red Cross aid delivery arrives in Venezuela

The first shipment of humanitarian aid from the Red Cross arrived in Venezuela on Tuesday, delivering medicine and supplies for needy patients in a country whose president has long denied the existence of a humanitarian crisis.

Workers in blue vests helped load boxes with the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies emblem onto trucks while leaders with the organisation pleaded for officials to keep the aid out of the nation’s political dispute.

“It will be distributed in conformance with the fundamental principles of our movement, especially neutrality, impartiality and independence,” said Mario Villarroel, president of the Venezuelan Red Cross. “Don’t allow the politicisation of this great achievement.”

Monday, April 15

Foreign intelligence services should exit Venezuela: Lima Group

The Lima Group regional bloc on Monday called for the exit of foreign security and intelligence forces from Venezuela and reiterated its rejection of the use of military force in the crisis-stricken South American nation.

Lima Group urges UN to ‘take action’ over Venezuela crisis

The Lima Group made up of mostly Latin American countries called on the United Nations on Monday to “take action” to prevent an escalation of Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis.

The group of 14 countries, which also includes Canada, exhorted UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the General Assembly and the Security Council to “take measures to avoid the progressive deterioration of peace and security, and to provide urgent humanitarian aid to the population of migrants coming from Venezuela.”

Venezuela accuses Canada of supporting Trump’s ‘war adventure’

Venezuela accused Canada of supporting US President Donald Trump’s “war adventure” after Ottawa announced new sanctions on top officials in President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

In a statement, Venezuela’s foreign ministry said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “has invalidated Canada as a reliable actor in dialogue”. 

“It’s alliance with war criminals that have declared their intention to destroy the Venezuelan economy to inflict suffering on the people and loot the country’s riches demonstrates the hypocritical attitude of the Ottawa government in its pretentious concern for human rights,” the foreign ministry said. 

Canada hit Venezuela with fresh sanctions

Canada announced new sanctions against 43 members of Maduro’s government, including Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, whom it holds “responsible for the deteriorating situation” in the crisis-wracked South American country.

The sanctions included a freeze on the individuals’ assets and a ban on them conducting business with Canada, which previously sanctioned another 70 top government officials.

Pompeo: US says it will hold Maduro accountable for crisis

The US secretary of state in the Columbian border town of Cucuta on Sunday said the US will continue to pressure Maduro, and use “every economic and political means … to help the Venezuelan people”. 

“Using sanctions, visa revocations and other means, we pledge to hold the regime and those propping it up accountable for their corruption and their repression of democracy,” Mike Pompeo said.

Pompeo met with Venezuelan refugees and called on Maduro to open the border to let aid through and to step down as president. 

In his last stop on a four-country tour in Latin America he said Russia and Cuba would pay a price for supporting Maduro.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Venezuelan refugees in La Parada near Cucuta, Colombia on Sunday. [Fernando Vergara/AP]


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