Venezuelan security forces on Sunday blocked opposition leader Juan Guaidó from a special session of the National Assembly, where he was expected to be re-elected as the legislature’s leader. In Guaidó’s absence, supporters of Maduro elected one of their own to head the body. Hours later, however, a majority of National Assembly lawmakers met in emergency session elsewhere, re-electing Guaidó and accusing Maduro of attempting a “parliamentary coup.”
President Trump issued an executive order on Monday that expands existing U.S. sanctions against Venezuela to include a total economic embargo against the country. The order means Americans are now banned from doing business with the Venezuelan government. The action to freeze assets places Venezuela on a par with North Korea, Iran, Syria and Cuba, the only other countries now under such stringent U.S. sanctions.
Venezuela has been hit by a nationwide power outage that the government has blamed without evidence on an “electromagnetic attack” on the nation’s hydroelectric system. The blackouts affected at least 14 of Venezuela’s 24 states, including the capital Caracas where power went out at around 4pm (8pm GMT) on Monday. It caused chaos on the city’s roads as traffic lights and the subway stopped working during rush hour.
Venezuela’s Supreme Court has accused four opposition members of parliament of treason and conspiracy, days after making similar accusations against 10 other lawmakers. They all supported opposition leader Juan Guaidó in a failed effort to spark a military rebellion against President Nicolás Maduro in April. Last week, one lawmaker was arrested and several took refuge in embassies. President Maduro has intensified a crackdown on the opposition since their failed uprising on 30 April.
The US has lifted sanctions on a Venezuelan general who broke ranks from the Nicolás Maduro regime, saying it hoped it would push others to follow. US sanctions will be lifted on Manuel Cristopher Figuera, Venezuela’s former intelligence chief. Mr Pence reiterated US support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has been recognized by more than 50 nations as Venezuela’s “interim president”. Mr Guaido is challenging the legitimacy of President Maduro.
Flanked by uniformed commanders, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Thursday urged the armed forces to combat “traitors” as he sought to project strength after opposition leader Juan Guaidó called for a military uprising two days earlier. Speaking at Fort Tiuna, a military base in Caracas, Maduro also said the opposition had sought to provoke bloodshed in Caracas with Guaidó’s call, which failed to push Venezuela’s military into rebellion but was followed by deadly clashes between protesters and police in cities across the country.
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday 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 ministry made the allegation after Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido called for a military uprising to oust President Nicolas Maduro and armed factions exchanged gunfire outside a Caracas air base as the country hit a new crisis point after years of political and economic chaos.
Brazil and Canada have retaliated with their own ejections after Venezuela expelled their officials from Caracas. Canada and Brazil have become outspoken critics of Venezuela’s socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, accusing his government of harassing opposition and violating human rights. Diplomats from Brazil and Canada have been accused of meddling in Venezuelan affairs.
Venezuela’s government struck back at self-declared interim president Juan Guaido on Tuesday, 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 Supreme Court approved a request from Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek Saab to open a preliminary investigation into Guaido based on accusations he helped foreign countries to interfere in internal matters.
The Trump administration announced Monday it is sanctioning Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, blocking $7 billion in assets and potentially costing the country $11 billion in oil revenues, according to National Security Adviser John Bolton. The sanctions block all U.S. persons or businesses from working with Venezuela’s state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., known by the acronym PDVSA, and funds from any purchases of Venezuelan oil will now have to go into special accounts Maduro’s government is blocked from accessing, according to the Treasury Department.