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.
Red Cross volunteers distributed the first shipment of badly needed emergency supplies in Venezuela on Tuesday after months of feuding between the government, which has denied the existence of a humanitarian crisis, and opponents who have been seeking to use the delivery of aid to force President Nicolás Maduro from power. The delivery of international humanitarian aid has become a focal point in Venezuela’s power struggle, now in its third month, after opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó will be barred from holding further public office for 15 years, the maximum allowed by law, the state financial controller has announced. Comptroller Elvis Amoroso said Mr Guaidó’s personal financial statements contained inconsistencies. Mr Guaidó rejected Mr Amoroso’s announcement, saying that he was “not auditor general”. With the backing of the Trump administration, Mr Guaidó has been leading calls for Mr Maduro to stand down as president as discontent with his socialist regime grows.
Most of Venezuela has been hit by an electricity blackout. The power cut plunged the capital Caracas into almost complete darkness during rush hour on Thursday, before extending to other areas. The government of President Nicolás Maduro has blamed the opposition, accusing them of sabotage. It comes amid rising tensions over opposition efforts – backed by the US and some Latin American countries – to remove Mr Maduro from power.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido faces the risk of arrest after he vowed to return home on Monday. Mr Guaido ignored a court-imposed travel ban and left the country to tour Latin American allies to boost support for his campaign to oust president Nicolas Maduro. His return could become the next flashpoint in his battle with Mr Maduro as he seeks to encourage his international backers to further isolate the socialist government. Mr Guaido called for huge demonstrations to coincide with his planned return, which falls during the Carnival holiday period, an unusual time for protests.