At least 20 people have died in the western Venezuelan state of Merida following intense rains that caused mudslides and rivers to overflow. On state TV on Wednesday a ruling Socialist Party official in Merida announced the death doll had risen and said authorities were working to restore telephone service in some areas. State governor Ramon Guevara said earlier that more than 1,200 houses had been destroyed.
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’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.
The United States is seeking to ensure that Venezuelan oil revenue goes to opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido, and to cut off money from increasingly isolated President Nicolas Maduro, a top U.S. official said on Thursday. Such a move would significantly strengthen the hand of Guaido, who swore himself in as interim head of state on Wednesday with the support of Washington and nations around the region.
Amid accusations of crimes against humanity from six nations, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro attended the UN General Assembly on Wednesday to ‘defend his country.’ Maduro previously threatened to skip the assembly over fears for his safety. The US Treasury Department imposed financial sanctions on Venezuela’s First Lady Cecilia Flores a year after freezing Maduro’s assets.
Venezuelan officials announced several people were killed during an operation to arrest an ex-officer accused of stealing a helicopter and attacking government buildings months ago. Oscar Perez, a former officer and an action movie actor, became a fugitive in June 2017, after the attacks. Perez posted videos during the siege, saying ‘They don’t want us to surrender, they want us dead!’
The U.S. government on Thursday indicted Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and more than a dozen other top Venezuelan officials on charges of “narco-terrorism,” the latest escalation of the Trump administration’s pressure campaign aimed at ousting the socialist leader. The State Department offered a reward of up to $15 million for information leading to the arrest of Maduro.
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.
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.