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.
President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the closure of Venezuela’s border with Brazil “until further notice” amid a tense standoff with the US-backed opposition leader, Juan Guaido, over allowing in humanitarian aid. Calling the aid a “provocation” and a “child’s game”, Maduro suggested it was a precursor to a US military intervention in the oil-rich, but economically crippled Latin American country. Venezuela has already closed its maritime border with the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire, after Curacao’s government said it would help store aid.
Russia said on Tuesday it was ready to facilitate the start of dialogue between Venezuela’s government and opposition but warned the United States against intervening in Caracas’ internal affairs. Russia has sided with President Nicolas Maduro in his stand-off with opposition leader Juan Guaido. Moscow has invested billions of dollars into Venezuela’s economy and oil production. On Tuesday opposition supporters returned to the streets nationwide to keep the heat on Maduro and demand that he allow humanitarian aid into Venezuela, where food and medicine shortages are rife.
Venezuela‘s military have barricaded a bridge at a key border crossing with Colombia in a challenge to a US-backed effort by the opposition to bring humanitarian aid into the beleaguered nation. Nicolas Maduro‘s regime blocked the Tienditas International Bridge with a giant orange tanker, two large blue containers and makeshift fencing. Armed soldiers stood guard at the customs building, with instructions to turn back any attempt to cross the border. Mr Maduro argues Venezuela is not a nation of “beggars” and has rejected the idea of receiving humanitarian assistance, regarding it as a foreign intervention.
President Donald Trump said that the use of US military force in Venezuela is still on the table amid its ongoing political crisis and that he turned down a meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro several months ago. Last month, self-declared interim president of Venezuela Juan Guaido refused to rule out accepting US military support, saying that the Venezuelan people want to end Maduro’s dictatorship with “whatever pressure is necessary,” but cautioned that he hopes it doesn’t come to that.
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.
European powers have warned Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro that he must call elections within eight days or they will officially recognize the opposition’s claim of leadership. Mr Maduro is under pressure after his rival Juan Guaidó declared himself “acting president” on Wednesday. Venezuela later rejected the ultimatum at a UN meeting, where divisions between world powers were laid bare. Also on Saturday, Venezuela’s defense attache in Washington, Col José Luis Silva, said he now recognized Mr Guaidó as interim leader and that fresh elections were needed.
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.