Tuesday, 22 October, 2019

Venezuela's Maduro says Trump out to kill him, Russian Federation seeks talks

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announce economic sanctions against Venezuela and the Venezuelan state owned oil company Pro-Bitcoin Guaido Traveled to US, Colombia, Brazil to Prep VZ Opposition Move
Russell Knight | 30 January, 2019, 14:55

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton did not allow the administration of President Donald Trump to establish a dialogue with the Venezuelan government, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro told Sputnik in an interview.

Venezuela's government struck back at self-declared interim president Juan Guaido today, with the Supreme Court imposing a travel ban and freeze on his bank accounts despite a warning from Washington of "serious consequences" if it did so.

The 35-year-old head of the National Assembly legislature "is prohibited from leaving the country until the end of the (preliminary) investigation" for having "caused harm to peace in the republic", high court president Maikel Moreno said.

With tensions rising, Mr Maduro later responded to the sanctions and instructed the PDVSA to launch "political and legal action, in USA and worldwide courts".

Maduro went on state television Tuesday to announce that he was beefing up the nation's defense by expanding Venezuela's civilian armed militia to 2 million members.

At the announcement, nationals U.S. Treasure Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, as quoted by the BBC, the sanctions will involve withholding PDVSA's proceeds from crude oil sales to the United States, adding that the company could avoid being sanctioned if it recognized Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro said he was prepared to hold negotiations with the United States-backed opposition and added he would support early parliamentary elections, RIA Novosti reported on Wednesday.

He said more than 850 people were detained between January 21 and January 26, including 77 children, some as young as 12.

Yes and no. The world is divided on support for Maduro or Guaido.

The Supreme Court is stacked with Maduro supporters, so it will probably rubber-stamp Saab's request.

Maduro said the talks could be held with mediation of other countries.

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Guaido said on Tuesday he did not underestimate the threat of imprisonment but did not believe it was "anything new".

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it had certified Guaido's authority to control certain assets held by the Federal Reserve Bank of NY or other U.S. -insured banks, including government and central bank accounts. Such prepayment could be in violation of the sanctions, setting the stage for a standoff at the ports.

Washington on Monday announced export sanctions against Venezuela's state-owned oil firm PDVSA, limiting transactions between U.S. companies that do business with Venezuela through purchases of crude oil and sales of refined products.

Gulf refineries that use Venezuela's heavy crude will have to look for alternatives to replace supplies.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the new sanctions "violate all possible worldwide norms" and said the United States has "publicly taken a course toward illegal regime change".

Venezuela has sunk into economic and political turmoil under Maduro's socialist government, with inflation seen rising to 10 million percent this year.

Russian Federation has responded by accusing the Trump administration of trying to usurp power in Venezuela and has condemned new U.S. sanctions against the country's vital oil sector as illegal interference in Venezuela's affairs.

In Geneva, senior USA and Venezuelan diplomats traded jibes at a disarmament conference.

"Without a doubt, Donald Trump gave the order to kill me, told the Colombian government, the Colombian mafia, to kill me".

The economic and political chaos has produced its own migrant crisis, with more than two million Venezuelans fleeing the country in recent years, mostly to neighbouring Colombia and Brazil, but also to the USA and Spain.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said historical experience showed foreign interference "only makes situations more complicated".

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