Venezuela Targets Opposition Leader With Travel Ban, Bank-Account Freeze

Posted January 31, 2019

Last week, Guaido, the leader of Venezuela's opposition-led National Assembly, declared himself acting president, a move immediately supported by U.S. President Donald Trump.

In a telephone call, US President Donald Trump congratulated Guaido on his "historic assumption of the presidency", giving him a new sense of legitimacy, the White House said. (Maduro's second term, won in rigged elections in 2108, is not recognized by the opposition.) Guaidó proclaimed himself president before crowds of supporters in Caracas at mass anti-government protests on Jan 23, triggering USA support.

Venezuela's Supreme Court on Tuesday barred opposition leader and self-declared president Juan Guaido from leaving the country and ordered a freeze on his financial assets.

Maduro told RIA Novosti that he is "willing to sit down for talks with the opposition for the sake of Venezuela's peace and its future".

Russian Federation is one of the staunchest supporters of Maduro and has offered to mediate.

The anti-Maduro protests on Wednesday were far smaller than the massive outpouring over the weekend, and the government repression in recent days may have discouraged a broader attendance.

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Maduro's government has denied that there is a humanitarian crisis in the country, blaming economic problems on sanctions.

The previously little-known Guaido has re-invigorated the opposition movement by pushing for three immediate goals: to end Maduro's "usurpation" of power, establish a transitional government, and hold a new presidential election.

"The United Nations are ready to increase their activities in Venezuela in the areas of humanitarian assistance and development", Guterres told Guaido in a letter dated January 29 and seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

"They cannot invent that Venezuela and Maduro have [weapons of mass destruction] so they could intervene, they now invent lies every day, false news to justify an aggression against our country." .

Mercado said he's putting his trust in Guaido to lead Venezuela through a smooth transition.

Perhaps most brazenly, Bolton appeared in an interview on Fox Business and disclosed that the US government was in talks with American corporations on how to capitalize on Venezuela's oil reserves, which are proven to be the world's largest.

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Tensions have risen in the country following a wave of fresh protests on Wednesday.

"I want this government to go, it has been a total humiliation for the country" said Lucy Cordoba, 51, a government worker in the poor hillside town of Petare at the edge of the capital, where she said trash had not been collected for a year and water was scarce. The Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions this week on Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the state-run oil company, which actually bans Americans from buying Venezuelan oil.

Maduro accused the U.S. media of waging a "brutal campaign of false images" to support the Trump administration's interference in Venezuela.

Maduro on Monday had accused the United States of trying to steal U.S. refining arm Citgo Petroleum after the Trump administration annouced sweeping sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA.

He also wrote in a New York Times op-ed published on Wednesday that the support of the military was key to efforts to oust Maduro, saying secret meetings had been held with members of the security forces.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Venezuela can get relief from the sanctions when control of the oil company is turned over to Guaido.

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The US has urged Venezuela's armed forces to "accept the peaceful, democratic and constitutional transfer of power", and has refused to rule out military intervention.