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MARCH  2019

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MARCH 30,  2019

US CONSIDERS A 'DIRECT THREAT TO PEACE' THE DEPLOYMENT OF RUSSIAN TROOPS IN VENEZUELA

  WASHINGTON, D.C.   --      John Bolton, National Security Adviser to President Donald Trump, insisted Friday on denouncing the shipment of Russian personnel and military material to Venezuela and warned the Kremlin that the White House considers these "provocative actions a direct threat". "We will continue to consider these provocative actions as a direct threat to international peace and security in the region," Bolton said in a statement, adding that the US government will "defend and protect" its interests in the region. American continent. Therefore, the advisor warned with "vehemence" to any "external actor" against deploying "military assets" in Venezuela or in any other area of the continent.

     "The Administration condemns the continued use by Nicolás Maduro of foreign military personnel in their attempt to hold on to power," the statement added. Bolton accused Maduro of resorting to the Russian Armed Forces to seek support in his policy of "repressing" the Venezuelan people, perpetuating the economic crisis that crosses the country and endangering "regional stability." "We call on the Venezuelan army to comply with its constitutional obligation to protect the citizens of Venezuela," the consultant concluded. The statement was issued two days after President Trump took advantage of a surprise meeting with Fabiana Rosales, wife of the opposition leader and interim president Juan Guaidó, whom the US recognizes as president, to declare that "Russia has to leave" the Caribbean country.

     Last weekend, soldiers commanded by Major General Vasili Tonkoshkurov, Chief of Staff of the Russian Army, landed at the international airport of Maiquetía, the main airport in Venezuela, aboard two military aircraft. Russia is one of the most important allies of President Maduro, whom he publicly supports in the face of the challenge of Guaidó, whose interim government is recognized by more than 50 countries as the only legitimate country. The Maduro government usually refers to Russia, which provides it with weapons, technology and other resources, as a "strategic ally" of its multilateral policy.

RUSSIA OPENS MILITARY TRAINING CENTER FOR PILOTS IN VENEZUELA

     CARACAS, VENEZUELA     --
   Russia opens military training center for helicopter pilots in Venezuela on Friday, Rosoboronexport, the public company in charge of arms sales, was quoted by the media as saying. "The capabilities of this center will allow Venezuelan pilots to receive full training on the operation and use of the Mi-17V-5, Mi-35M and Mi-26T helicopters in conditions close to reality," said Viacheslav Davydenko, a spokesman. from Rosoboronexport to the Russian agency Interfax.

     The opening ceremony was held on Friday in the presence of "Russian and Venezuelan specialists," the spokesman added, without giving details about the location of the center. The training "will make the preparation of the pilots safer and more efficient, and will save considerably in expenses for their training," added Davydenko, who said that Venezuelan military officers have already received training for the use of Russian flight simulators. According to this source, the center was built after a contract between the Venezuelan anonymous company of military industry (Cavim) and Rosoboronexport, which is part of the Russian military-

     Venezuela became in recent weeks a point of friction supplementary to the new Cold War between Russia and the United States. Washington recognizes, along with some 50 countries, Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela and demands the exit of the power of Nicolás Maduro, while Moscow accuses the United States of trying to organize a "coup d'état". Those tensions increased with the arrival last week of two Russian airplanes to Caracas thattransported, according to Venezuelan media, 99 military and 35 tons of material. Russia and Venezuela closed in 2011 a military cooperation agreement that provides for the sale of Russian arms to Caracas financed with a Russian credit of about 4,000 million dollars.

HRW  URGED UN SECRETARY GENERAL GUTERRES TO "STAND" ON THE VENEZUELAN HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

 

    BRUSSELS, BELGIUM--  The executive director of the Human Rights organization, Human Rights Watch for its acronym in English (HRW) for the Americas, José Miguel Vivanco, reported that the secretary general of the United Nations (UN), Antonio Guterres , "Must take a position" with respect to the critical situation facing Venezuela and activate the aid mechanisms for the country. Vivanco said that a report on Venezuela will be delivered to the UN Secretary General on April 4.

     According to information from the EFE news agency, the head of HRW, who also participated in the inaugural panel of the Inter-American Press Association's Mid-Year Meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, highlighted the commitment of Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States. Americans (OAS), participant in the same panel, with the search for solutions to the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, but affirmed that the same does not happen with Guterres.

     "The main recommendation that we are making in this report is that the secretary general of the United Nations must take sides in this crisis," Vivanco said in the Venezuela without Chavism panel: a new opportunity for the hemisphere. "Unfortunately, I can not say exactly the same thing about the Secretary General of the United Nations, who must declare once and for all the case of Venezuela as a humanitarian emergency," he said. Finally he explained that the UN "has practices, policies and principles that allow it to react in humanitarian matters, with or without consent of the political element that causes the crisis."

MARCH 29,  2019

RUSSIA SAYS ITS TROOPS WILL STAY IN VENEZUELA 'AS LONG AS NEEDED"

  MOSCOW, RUSSIA  --     Russia said Thursday its troops will stay in Venezuela "for as long as needed," rejecting US President Donald Trump's demand that Russia remove its military from the crisis-stricken country. Russia's weekend deployment of troops and equipment to bolster President Nicolas Maduro has ratcheted up already high international tensions over Venezuela where the Trump administration is pushing for regime change. The Russian foreign ministry insisted Thursday the presence of its troops there did not pose a threat to anyone. "They are involved in the implementation of agreements in the sphere of military and technical cooperation," said ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, adding they would remain in the country "for as long as needed."

     "Russia is not changing the balance of power in the region, Russia is not threatening anyone unlike citizens in Washington whom I have just quoted," she told reporters. She was referring to Trump's comments that "Russia has to get out" of Venezuela as well as to statements by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Washington does not plan to negotiate with Maduro and wants to end Russia and Cuba's influence on Caracas. The United States and more than 50 other countries recognise Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president while Russia, along with China, backs Maduro. "Neither Russia nor Venezuela are provinces of the United States," Zakharova said. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused Washington of trying to "organise a coup d'etat" in the oil-producing nation.

     Venezuela's military attache in Moscow also said Thursday that Russian troops were in the country under an agreement on military and technical cooperation and not to carry out a military operation. A Russian air force Antonov-124 cargo plane and a smaller Ilyushin Il-62 landed at the main airport outside Caracas on Saturday and offloaded around 100 troops and tonnes of equipment. "As for the presence of Russian specialists, we are talking about cooperation, military and technical cooperation," the attache, Jose Rafael Torrealba Perez, was quoted as saying in translated comments by RIA Novosti state news agency. "We are absolutely not talking about Russia's military presence to carry out military operations," he added. In 2011, Russia gave Venezuela a $4 billion loan to buy Russian armaments.

VENEZUELA TO RATION ELECTRIC POWER IN CARACAS, A MEASURE LONG AVOIDED

     CARACAS, VENEZUELA     --
   With the lights still flickering, Venezuelans are preparing for an event that the socialist regime has long tried to avoid: power rationing in the capital. On Thursday, after much of Caracas had gone three days without electricity, businesses were reopening. Residents stocked up on bread as though a snow storm were about to hit town. The poor sought water as the wealthiest searched for generators and diesel fuel Caraquenos, as residents of the capital are known, are bracing for similar conditions endured in backwater towns and cities that have suffered unrest and looting. On Wednesday, President Nicolas Maduro announced electricity will be rationed as authorities try to fix the crisis-torn nation’s shaky grid.

     The government has tried to shield Caracas at all costs by diverting energy and resources, but after two nationwide blackouts in less than a month, few believe the capital can continue to be safeguarded from years of mismanagement and decay. “Now it’s Caracas’s turn,” said Dervis Gomez, a parking attendant at a bakery in the east of the city. Inside, shoppers queued for the few flatbreads and cakes available, while others simply idled and enjoyed the electricity. “We have power now, but it’ll go out anytime.” Venezuela is still reeling from a nationwide power failure that began Monday with classes and work suspended for a third straight day. Across Caracas long lines formed at gas stations, and the metro and most public transit remained closed.

     Those with the means in Caracas have been buying up small, diesel-fueled generators. Joel Barrios, a salesman at ElectroMall, an electronics store on the east side of town, said his shop has sold over 500 units priced as high as $3,000 in the past two weeks. "People are desperate,” Barrios said. “We sell out all the time.” Maduro on Wednesday phoned in to state television and told Venezuelans -- those who could see him -- to expect more power cuts in days to come. “We will have days where we’ll have to ration, conscientiously, in an organized manner,” he said. For a decade, the government has tried to protect the capital from regular outages. In 2010, Maduro’s predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, sacked an electricity minister after he imposed a plan to ration power in Caracas amid a previous crisis.

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW RESOLUTION AGAINST VENEZUELA

    BRUSSELS, BELGIUM-- A plenary session of the European Parliament approved today a resolution that criticizes the efforts of the International Contact Group promoted by the EU in favor of free elections in Venezuela, as opposed to what was defended by the diplomacy of the EU's high representative, Federica Mogherini. The text was approved with 310 votes in favor, 120 against and 152 abstentions. In the nine previous votes on Venezuela, socialists, popular and liberal European had managed to agree on a common text, but this time the Socialists have left the table because they had exceeded "several red lines," he told Efe Ramón Jáuregui, MEP of the Spanish PSOE. The text says "take note" of "the lack of tangible results" and implies that the Contact Group can be "used by the illegal regime of (Nicolás) Maduro as a strategy to delay the resolution of the crisis in order to remain in the power".

    The European External Action Service (SEAE) has lamented, according to European and parliamentary sources, that explicit criticism of the resolution on the Contact Group, made up of eight EU countries -including Spain- and four from the Latin American region, to seek a solution dialogue in Venezuela, prepare the conditions for fair presidential elections and support humanitarian aid. Nevertheless, sources of European diplomacy told Efe that regardless of what the European Parliament approves, "the position on Venezuela remains unchanged" in support of the Contact Group. Another red line for which the European Social Democrats have decided to stand out from the right of the Chamber is that the resolution does not warn against a military intervention, an option that is not ruled out by some international actors, such as the US president, Donald Trump.

    "For us (the text) is not enough," he told Efe Jáuregui, who said that "military intervention is too present and there are too many political statements that are more than evident." The resolution does not include a condemnation of possible military intervention, but points out the EU's support "in favor of an effective multilateralism within the framework of the United Nations, in order to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe with greater consequences" . From the European liberals, Beatriz Becerra explained to Efe that the text has not incorporated a warning against military intervention because it has preferred to emphasize "the peaceful solution through free, transparent and credible elections", which, he said, is "the European position". The joint text that won the approval of the European Parliament has been drafted by MEPs, mostly Spanish, from the popular group (PPE), liberal (ALDE) and conservative and reformist (ECR, the group in negotiations with the Spanish party of extreme right Vox).

MARCH 28,  2019

PRESIDENT TRUMP: RUSSIAN MILITARY MUST 'GET OUT' OF VENEZUELA

   WASHINGTON, D.C..  --    U.S. President Donald Trump says Russia "has to get out" of Venezuela, following the recent arrival of Russian military personnel in that country. "All options are open," Trump repeated several times in response to a reporter's question Wednesday about whether the United States is willing to put "boots on the ground" to remove the Russians. Trump added that Moscow is well aware of the U.S. stance. Trump spoke to reporters at the White House alongside Fabiana Rosales, the wife of Venezuelan opposition leader and self-declared interim President Juan Guaido. "The United States views Russia's arrival of military planes this weekend as an unwelcome provocation," Pence said alongside Rosales in the Roosevelt Room. "We call on Russia today to cease all support of the Maduro regime and stand with Juan Guaido, stand with nations across this hemisphere and across the world until freedom is restored."

     "Today, in Venezuela, it is freedom or dictatorship. It is life or it is death," Rosales said. "And those who are paying the price of this hate are the children." She added that children are dying in hospitals which are without electricity or needed medical supplies, and other children are succumbing "because they have no food." The United States, along with dozens of other countries, have recognized Guaido as the country's interim president, while Russia has backed President Nicolas Maduro. Guaido, in Venezuela on Wednesday, called on supporters to protest Saturday against nationwide power outages.Efforts to move U.S. humanitarian aid into Venezuela from Colombia have not succeeded. "Maduro won't take aid," Trump said Wednesday in the Oval Office. "We've sent hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of aid to the border. He won't take the aid. He'd rather have his people starve than take the aid. I don't think that's good, even from a political standpoint, even from a dictator."

     Trump added that "this did not have to happen in Venezuela," blaming previous U.S. administrations for not solving the Venezuelan issue. "This is a tragedy." The president added that he had "inherited a mess" with Venezuela and other foreign policy matters. News reports say two Russian air force planes carried a Russian defense official and nearly 100 troops on Saturday into the main airport in Caracas. "Russia has various contracts that are in the process of being fulfilled, contracts of a technical military character," is how the Russian government-owned Sputnik news service characterized the flights, which it says carried officials to "exchange consultations." Some analysts view Trump's rhetoric, combined with the presence of Russian forces in Venezuela, as heightening the risk of a confrontation there. "The Russians are seeking to project power close to the U.S., as they have done in the past, and also show solidarity and support for the Maduro regime," said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a transnational think tank. "The U.S. knows that Russia can give Maduro some oxygen and breathing space but lacks the capacity or will to save Venezuela."

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE CALLS THE ARRIVAL OF RUSSIAN MILITARY TO VENEZUELA A PROVOCATION 

     WASHINGTON, D.C.      --
   The arrival of two Russian military aircraft with nearly 100 troops to Venezuela last weekend represents a provocation, said on Wednesday the vice president of the United States, Mike Pence, on the day that the White House welcomed the wife of the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó. The government of President Donald Trump has recognized Guaidó as the leader in charge of Venezuela and has called the socialist leader Nicolás Maduro to leave office. Maduro and Russia have said that the demands and actions of the United States around Venezuela are encouraging a coup in the South American country. The Russian military contingent that arrived in Venezuela over the weekend includes special forces and "cybersecurity personnel," a US official told Reuters. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States is still evaluating the Russian deployment, which Washington called a "reckless escalation" of the situation in Venezuela.

     Two Russian air force planes landed in Caracas on Saturday with nearly 100 Russian soldiers, according to local media reports. Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Santa Lucia, member countries of the Lima Group, expressed their concern about the arrival of Russian airplanes to Venezuela. The group said it "condemns any provocation or military deployment that threatens peace and security in the region." The government of Donald Trump has recognized the Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, as the legitimate president of the country and pressures Maduro to leave power. Russia has described the pressures of Washington as a coup supported by the United States against the socialist government.

     The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that the presence of "Russian specialists" in Venezuela is governed by a technical-military cooperation agreement between the two countries, but gave no further details. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday in a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that Washington will not stand idly by Moscow's endorsement of Maduro, whose government has seen the dramatic collapse of the economy of the member country of OPEC. Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, said in a Twitter message on Tuesday that while Guaidó is requesting humanitarian aid, Maduro instead asks that Cubans and Russians repress the people of Venezuela. "The top military ranks see Maduro's corruption, violence and lack of support within Venezuela," Bolton said in a message on Twitter. Maduro, which controls state institutions, including the military, has the support of Russia, China and Cuba, while Guaidó is recognized by Washington and most of the western countries.

PRESIDENT INTERIM OF VENEZUELA JUAN GUAIDO CALLS FOR A NATIONAL PROTEST NEXT SATURDAY FOR THE MASSIVE BLACKOUTS IN THE COUNTRY

    CARACAS, VENEZUELA-- The opposition leader Juan Guaidó called on his supporters to protest next Saturday for the massive blackouts that have affected Venezuela for three weeks. "We summoned this Saturday throughout the national territory (...) to reject the lack of public services, the light went out, we can not remain as passive actors," he said Wednesday during a meeting Guaidó, recognized as interim president for more than 50 countries headed by the United StatesA power cut hits most of the country since Monday, collapsing the water supply, communications networks, transportation and electronic banking.

     It is a second failure after the worst blackout in the history of Venezuela, which paralyzed the country between March 7 and 14. "We are waiting in the house or we put together the one we have to put together in the street," affirmed the head of the parliament, with an opposition majority, urging his followers to demonstrate against the continuing failures in basic services, which the government attributes to "attacks" of the United States with opposition support. Guaidó made the call by announcing the start of the "preparatory phase" of the "freedom operation", which according to him will lead to the departure of the socialist president, Nicolás Maduro, whom he calls "usurper" and accuses the energy collapse.

     Although he did not elaborate, he has said that the strategy includes a national mobilization to the presidential palace of Miraflores, in Caracas, to assume its control, on a date to be defined. He said that on April 6 will be the first "simulation" of "Operation Freedom." For this, he ratified his call to the Armed Forces to cease his support for the "dictatorship", as well as his willingness to ask the Legislature to activate a constitutional article that authorizes the entry of foreign military missions. His most determined ally, US President Donald Trump, who on Wednesday received Guaidó's wife, Fabiana Rosales, in Washington, does not rule out an armed intervention to depose Maduro.

MARCH 27,  2019

FEAR AND CHAOS IN A NEW NIGHT OF BLACKOUT IN VENEZUELA

   CARACAS, VENEZUELA.  --    Millions of Venezuelans spent the night from Monday to Tuesday in the dark, when they were just beginning to recover from the massive blackout that paralyzed the country 20 days ago during a week. Once again, Caracas and at least 21 of the 23 states of Venezuela were hit by a massive blackout, reported users who used the #SinLuz or # Blackout tag on social networks. Since the power cut began on Monday afternoon, the service was restored in the capital and central regions for just a few hours, but then fell again. Inhabitants of other states also denounced new cuts in social networks, where they expressed their frustration, fury and ironic about a new "cyberataque", as the regime of Nicolás Maduro affirms.

     The blackouts are frequent in the oil country, and systematically the dictator Nicolás Maduro and the Minister of Electricity, General Luis Motta, attribute them to sabotages of the opposition. The Minister of Communication, Jorge Rodríguez, argued that it was "an attack on the load and transmission center" of the Guri hydroelectric plant (Bolívar state, south), which generates 80% of the energy consumed by this country of 30 million population. But the head of Parliament Juan Guaidó, recognized as interim president by more than 50 countries after being proclaimed two months ago after the legislature declared Maduro "usurper," said the cut was caused by an "overload in the substation system." "They lie because they don’t want not assume their responsibility (...). They are putting at risk the little that remains of the electrical infrastructure, "said Guaidó, who has failed to break the main support of the heir of the late Hugo Chávez (1999-2013): the Armed Forces, with broad political and economic power.

    "It's rough, everything stops working. In the days of blackout one does not do anything, there is no Internet, there is no access to cash, "said Yendresca Muñoz, a bank analyst of 34 years. The only hope is to "get out of this government," he said. The blackout came 18 days after a massive blackout paralyzed the country for a week. The government of dictator Nicolás Maduro also attributed that crisis to "cyber attacks" led by the United States with support from the Venezuelan opposition. Power outages in Venezuela impact hospital care, water supply and electronic banking, which are vital because of the shortage of cash caused by hyperinflation and the devaluation of the local currency. "This is already too much (...). Meats, chickens, everything that is eaten is damaged, it is total loss, "complained Leo, 19, an employee of a restaurant in eastern Caracas. Beside him a dozen workers sat in the street to wait resigned.

STATEMENT FROM THE OAS GENERAL SECRETARIAT THAT REJECTS RUSSIAN MILITARY PRESENCE IN VENEZUELA

     WASHINGTON, D.C.      --
   The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) rejects the recent Russian military incursion into Venezuelan territory, which was not authorized by the National Assembly, as required by the Venezuelan Constitution, and which was done in support of a government that has been declared illegitimate. The presence of military personnel and military transport constitutes a harmful act to Venezuelan sovereignty. The foreign military personnel are an instrument of repressive intimidation in the context of a democratic transition led by the interim President Juan Guaidó.

     As previously stated in a declaration (E-080/18) and verbal note (OSG-555/18) of the General Secretariat, this military mission violates the Venezuelan Constitution by not having been authorized by the National Assembly, as required by Article 187 paragraph 11. It is unacceptable that a foreign government engages in military cooperation programs with a usurping regime that has been declared illegitimate by resolutions and Inter-American law, which also threatens hemispheric peace and security.

     He maintains that the foreign uniformed are an "instrument of repressive intimidation in the context of a democratic transition led by the President in charge Juan Guaidó". "It is inadmissible that a foreign government has programs of military cooperation with a usurping regime that has been declared illegitimate by resolutions and inter-American law, which also threatens hemispheric peace and security," said part of the statement. Russian state agency Sputnik confirmed on Sunday 24 that two aircraft of the Russian Armed Forces landed on Saturday at the international airport of Maiquetía, near Caracas, disembarking military personnel and equipment.

 COLOMBIA CONSIDERS A 'MILITARY INCURSION' THE ARRIVAL OF RUSSIANS SOLDIERS TO VENEZUELA

  BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -- Colombia considers a "military incursion" the arrival of Russian soldiers to Venezuela. The Colombian Foreign Minister, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, described Tuesday as "a military incursion" the arrival of Russian soldiers to Venezuela last Sunday aboard two aircraft that landed at the airport of Maiquetía. "This is a military incursion into Venezuelan territory, which did not have the authorization of the National Assembly (AN, Parliament) as established by the Constitution of Venezuela," said Trujillo, speaking at the forum "Great day of reflection on Venezuela. politics and economic reconstruction ", organized by the newspaper El Tiempo and the Universidad del Rosario.

    Therefore, Trujillo expressed on behalf of Colombia the "deepest concern and rejected" the arrival of those two Russian military aircraft at a time "when that country is going through a serious multidimensional crisis". In his opinion, "the regime of (Nicolás) Maduro refuses to face" that crisis and "before the evidence (...) does not hesitate to use repression to perpetuate." According to the newspaper El Nacional, soldiers commanded by Major General Vasili Tonkoshkurov, Chief of Staff of the Russian Army, arrived in Maiquetia aboard two military aircraft that also carried 35 tons of unspecified material.

    Russia is one of the greatest allies of the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, whom he publicly supports in face of the challenge of the interim president, Juan Guaidó, recognized by fifty countries, including Colombia. The Maduro government usually refers to Russia, which supplies it with armament, technology and other resources, as a "strategic ally" of its multilateral policy. In this sense and before the transition process that considers that it should start in Venezuela, the Colombian Foreign Minister denounced that "the regime has abused the good faith and good dispositions of its interlocutors and international actors to perpetuate and frustrate the democratic will of the Venezuelans "

MARCH 26,  2019

US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES APPROVES A BILL ON THREAT RUSSIA-VENEZUELA

   WASHINGTON, D.C..  --    The House of Representatives of the United States approved on Monday a bill to "mitigate the Venezuelan-Russian threat" and two others to limit the access of the Government of Nicolás Maduro to non-lethal weapons and to increase "humanitarian aid" to Venezuela. The three projects were promoted by Democratic congressmen from the state of Florida and all three were approved unanimously in the US House of Representatives. The project on the so-called "Russian-Venezuelan threat" urges the State Department to study and present to Congress measures to limit the military influence of the Kremlin in Venezuela. The vote coincided with the arrival this weekend in Caracas of two Russian military aircraft. According to local media, on board the aircraft were about a hundred soldiers and tons of unidentified equipment.

     The promoter of the project, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who led the Democratic Party between 2011 and 2016 and resigned splashed by a scandal to try to harm Bernie Sanders during the primaries to the White House, echoed on Twitter of the arrival of Russian military to Venezuela. Another of the bills passed in the lower house prohibits the sale to the Venezuelan government of tear gas, rubber balls or other riot gear. The project expands the ban on the sale of weapons that rules the United States. on Venezuela since 2006. "With the approval of the Armament Restriction Law to Venezuela, we are one step closer to ensuring that weapons originating in the United States are not used to silence dissent," said her promoter, Congresswoman Donna Shalala. , also a Democrat from Florida.

    Finally, the House of Representatives approved a plan to allocate 150 million dollars in humanitarian aid to Venezuela between 2020 and 2021. Its promoter, Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, said the plan "will relieve the pain of the Venezuelan people by providing humanitarian assistance in accordance with international humanitarian principles for those within the country and in the region. " Although some Democratic congressmen have been critical of the recognition of the US Government. and of the leadership of his party to the opposition leader Juan Guaidó as legitimate president of Venezuela, the three projects, which now pass to the Senate, were approved unanimously.

VENEZUELA AGAIN IN THE DARK FOR BLACKOUT LAST NIGHT AND TODAY

 
    CARACAS, VENEZUELA      --
   A large part of Venezuela remains without light after several blackouts that began yesterday that have affected almost the entire country almost three weeks after the largest power cut that reminds the country, which is mired in a deep political crisis. In addition to suffering the lack of electricity, the Venezuelans were again incommunicado. The cell phone does not work, nor the landlines of Cantv and the other operators. There is also no water, since the hydropneumatic systems do not work due to the blackout. Classes and work activities were suspended by the regime at 4 o'clock in the morning, although no Venezuelan has heard because they have no electricity or telephone. On the motorways of Caracas, the drivers are stationed in the hombrillo, seeking to communicate with their families.

     On Monday afternoon, a fault described by the Nicolás Maduro regime as "an attack", left most of the country's 24 states without light for several hours. At night, after the gradual restoration of the service, the light turned to go and on Tuesday morning a large part of the country still had no power supply. "A new attack of magnitude was perpetrated in the transformer yard of Guri," Communication Minister Jorge Rodríguez said Monday, referring to Venezuela's largest hydroelectric complex , which provides nearly 70 percent of the country's energy. "All the teams are working to overcome this electrical war and this attack was carried out against the tranquility of the people of Venezuela, " he added. Cities such as the oil company Maracaibo and Barquisimeto, both in the west of the South American nation, as well as the industrial Valencia, in the center, awoke without service.

     Operations at the main oil export terminal, Jose, were affected by power outages, a source at state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) told Reuters . The rest of the oil industry, which mostly has its own supply, did not report failures. Maduro says that the political opposition, with support from the United States, seeks to leave the country in darkness to sow chaos and unseat it. That same thesis was used to justify one of the biggest blackouts that affected almost the entire country at the beginning of March. Specialists say, however, that power outages are the result of deterioration in the facilities due to the prolonged disinvestment in the electricity system since, in 2007, the late President Hugo Chávez nationalized the sector.

 TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WARNS RUSSIA AGAINST TROOPS BUILD UP IN  VENEZUELA

  WASHINGTON, D,C,  -- MIKE Pompeo warned Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Russia was exacerbating tensions in Venezuela and undermining efforts to restore democracy in the South American nation, Robert Palladino, a State Department spokesman, said. “‎The continued insertion of Russian military personnel to support the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela risks prolonging the suffering of the Venezuelan people who overwhelmingly support interim President Juan Guaidó,” Palladino said. The United States and regional allies became concerned this weekend when Russian planes landed in Caracas. Venezuelan journalists reported that about 100 Russian soldiers arrived on the planes. The Russian personnel were involved in training and military cooperation with their Venezuelan counterparts.

     The once mighty oil-rich nation of Venezuela is mired in an economic and humanitarian crisis that has led to hyperinflation and widespread shortages of food and medicine. More than three million people have fled the country across the hemisphere. After the United States imposed sanctions meant to punish Maduro’s government for steamrolling democratic institutions, Caracas has been desperate to find new ways to get cash and other forms of international support. “Clearly, Maduro’s enablers in Moscow and Havana are pushing continued escalation with the end-goal of crushing the opposition once-and-for-all,” said José Cárdenas, who served in the National Security Council under former President George W. Bush and regularly speaks with Trump administration officials. “They also want to deplete the peaceful options at the disposal of the U.S.-led international effort to promote change in Venezuela and then dare them to contemplate the worst option: military intervention.”

     Russia has helped Venezuela on several occasions to make billions of dollars worth in debt payments. The Russian state oil firm Rosneft also holds a 49.9 percent stake in the Venezuelan-owned, U.S.-based refinery Citgo following a $1.5 billion loan from the Russian company. Just weeks ago, Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez announced that state-run oil company, PDVSA, would move its European headquarters to Moscow from Lisbon. Earlier this month, Pompeo blamed the Russian government along with Cuba for propping up Maduro and thwarting efforts by the Venezuelan people to restore democracy. He criticized Russia for vetoing a U.N.-sponsored resolution to allow aid to be delivered to the Venezuelan people and accused Russian leaders of using its state sponsored media outlets of attempts to “divert attention from the humanitarian disaster.” He said Russia has provided more than $17 billion in loans and investments and helped the Maduro regime convert gold to cash. “The Kremlin is standing with its Venezuelan cronies against the will of the people of a sovereign nation to protect a Moscow-friendly regime,” Pompeo said at that time.

MARCH 25,  2019

VENEZUELA MILITARY DEPLOYS S-300 MISSILES FOLLOWING RUSSIAN TROOPS ARRIVALS

    CARACAS, VENEZUELA .  --   Moscow unambiguously asserting its 'red line' concerning potential US military intervention in Venezuela, for which Russia sent a military transport plane filled with Russian troops which landed in Caracas Saturday, new satellite images reveal a major deployment of S-300 air defense missile systems to a key airbase south of Caracas. Image via AMN News Crucially the Russian An-124 transport plane which touched down in Caracas on Saturday carried no less than Russian General Vasily Tonkoshkurov, identified as chief of the Main Staff of the Ground Forces and First Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Land Forces of Russia, accompanied by 99 servicemen and 35 tons of cargo.

       As reported the flight came just days after a high-level meeting in Rome last week, during which Russia reiterated a grave warning to the US – Moscow will not tolerate American military intervention to topple the Venezuelan government with whom it is allied - thus it appears Russia is taking no chances with its South American ally. One of those warnings delivered directly by Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov to US “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams is understood to have been that no American military intervention in Venezuela will be tolerated by Moscow.And just a day following the contingency of Russia troops landing in Caracas, Maduro's National Bolivarian Armed Forces have reportedly activated S-300 missiles after completing military drills that previously took place in February.

     The professional monitoring service Image Satellite International (or Image Sat) has published satellite imagery it analyzed, showing additional S-300 missiles that have been deployed to the Captain Manuel Rios Airbase in the Guarico state of Venezuela. No doubt, the timing of the S-300 redeployment is purposeful, meant to send a strong message to Washington, though it remains unclear Perhaps paralleling the Syria situation, this could be the start of a scenario where the greater the proxy action and threats from the United States, the more Russia will slowly intervene at the behest of Maduro. All of these developments signalling closer Russian-Venezuelan military-to-military cooperation in the face of Washington saber rattling come after three months ago the two allies held military exercises on Venezuelan soil, which the US at the time had condemned as Russia encroachment in the region. But now with a high level Russian commander on the ground, and with Russian-made S-300s under the control of Maduro forces, it is unlikely that the US will act forcefully following the failed coup attempt of the past two months.

MIKE POMPEO AFFIRMS THE USA WILL NOT STAY IDLE BY WITH RESPECT TO RUSSIAN'S ACTIONS IN VENEZUELA

 
    WASHINGTON, D.C.     --
   US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss the situation in Venezuela, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said on Monday in a readout of a phone conversation between the two leaders. "Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo called Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today, March 25 on the situation in Venezuela," Palladino said. During the conversation, Pompeo told Lavrov that the United State would not stand by with respect to Russia's actions in Venezuela.

"The Secretary told Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov that the United States and regional countries will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela," Palladino said in the release. "The continued insertion of Russian military personnel to support the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela risks prolonging the suffering of the Venezuelan people who overwhelmingly support interim President Juan Guaido."

A group of Russian military personnelhas arrived in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas to take part in consultations with the country's government officials on bilateral defense industry cooperation, a diplomatic source in Caracas told Sputnik. The planes arrived in the Venezuelan capital on Saturday. Media earlier reported that an estimated 99 Russian military staff arrived in Caracas on board two planes, which also delivered 35 tonnes of cargo.
Venezuela has been suffering from a severe political crisis for around two months, after the leader of the country's opposition, Juan Guaido, legally, as the Oresident of the National Assembly, proclaimed himself interim president, contesting the re-election of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro last year.

MORE RUSSIAN AIR FORCE PLANES LAND IN VENEZUELAN CARRYING MORE TROOPS

   Caracas,, venezuela   -- Two  more Russian air force planes landed at Venezuela’s main airport on Saturday carrying a Russian defense official and OVER 100 troops, according to media reports, amid strengthening ties between Caracas and Moscow. An airplane with the Russian flag is seen at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Caracas, Venezuela March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso A flight-tracking website showed that two planes left from a Russian military airport bound for Caracas on Friday, and another flight-tracking site showed that one plane left Caracas on Sunday. That comes three months after the two nations held military exercises on Venezuelan soil that President Nicolas Maduro called a sign of strengthening relations, but which Washington criticized as Russian encroachment in the region. Reporter Javier Mayorca wrote on Twitter on Saturday that the first plane carried Vasily Tonkoshkurov, chief of staff of the ground forces, adding the second was a cargo plane carrying 35 tonnes of material.

     An Ilyushin IL-62 passenger jet and an Antonov AN-124 military cargo plane left for Caracas on Friday from Russian military airport Chkalovsky, stopping along the way in Syria, according to flight-tracking website Flightradar24. The cargo plane left Caracas on Sunday afternoon, according to Adsbexchange, another flight-tracking site. The flights carried officials who arrived to “exchange consultations,” wrote Russian government-owned news agency Sputnik, which quoted an unnamed source at the Russian embassy. “Russia has various contracts that are in the process of being fulfilled, contracts of a technical military character,” Sputnik quoted the source as saying. A Reuters witness saw what appeared to be the passenger jet at the Maiquetia airport on Sunday. Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Russia’s Defense Ministry and Foreign Ministry did not reply to messages seeking comment. The Kremlin spokesman also did not reply to a request for comment.

     The Trump administration has levied crippling sanctions on the OPEC nation’s oil industry in efforts to push Maduro from power and has called on Venezuelan military leaders to abandon him. Maduro has denounced the sanctions as U.S. interventionism and has won diplomatic backing from Russia and China. In December, two Russian strategic bomber aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons landed in Venezuela in a show of support for Maduro’s socialist government that infuriated Washington. Maduro on Wednesday said Russia would send medicine “next week” to Venezuela, without describing how it would arrive, adding that Moscow in February had sent some 300 tonnes of humanitarian aid. Venezuela in February had blocked a convoy carrying humanitarian aid for the crisis-stricken country that was coordinated with the team of opposition leader Juan Guaido, including supplies provided by the United States, from entering via the border with Colombia.

MARCH 23,  2019

END DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO'S REGIME BY BLOCKING ITS OIL SUPPLY TO CUBA

    WASHINGTON, D.C.  --   Absent a ground operation, how can the U.S. drive Venezuela's pretender president, Nicolas Maduro, from power?  The answer is to remove his resource control over the levers of state coercion. Because if Maduro can't command the security forces, he'll have to either flee Venezuela or face a violent demise. For that reason, the next U.S. step against Maduro should be to cut off his oil supplies to Cuba. As the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, Cuba receives about 40,000 barrels of Venezuelan oil each day. This, the Journal says, accounts for 28 percent of Cuba's oil needs. And U.S. government analysis also suggests Cuba is heavily reliant on oil for its overall electricity needs. If these exports are constrained even by a medium degree, Cuba's economy will face ruin. Its ruling communist government would in turn face great pressure to abandon Maduro.

      The consequences for Maduro would be very serious. After all, Cuba's intelligence service and its military enable Maduro to deter his security force from defecting to interim president, Juan Guaido. But if the Cubans aren't getting their oil and sense they won't unless they pack up and leave Venezuela, they won't have a choice. At that point, Venezuelan security force defections will become easier. The end to Cuban support would immediately undercut Maduro's credibility as a survivor. Neither Cuba nor Venezuela has the means to contest the U.S. Navy in the Caribbean. And the U.S. 4th Fleet already has significant assets near its area of control.

      Considering more than 650 miles of water separate Cuba from Venezuela, a U.S. Navy embargo could be accomplished with a small flotilla of three to four U.S. destroyers operating about halfway between the two nations. Moreover, the U.S. military overmatch makes it likely that once the first oil tankers were turned back, the political ramifications would reverberate immediately through Havana and Caracas. Top officers would recognize the shifting tides of Maduro's fortunes and seek rehabilitation under Guaido's administration. Would this action be legal? Yes. President Trump has wide constitutional latitude to deploy the U.S. military on sea interdiction operations. Guaido would also likely authorize such an action were the U.S. to ask his permission. Would it be moral? Also, yes. Venezuela's people are starving and dying of easily treatable diseases because Maduro remains in power. And Guaido's legitimate government has been blocked from power.

PRESIDENT TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES NEW STRONG ADDITIONAL VENEZUELAN SANCTIONS

 
    WASHINGTON, D.C.     --
   The Trump administration on Friday announced additional sanctions for Venezuela in response to what it describes as the illegal arrest of opposition leader Juan Guaido's chief of staff. The Treasury Department announcement came while the President Donald Trump met with leaders from five Caribbean nations, where Venezuela was at the top of the agenda. The region has been far from united in joining the U.S. call for the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro. The department is specifically targeting Venezuela's national development bank, BANDES, and four additional subsidiaries that BANDES owns or controls.

      "The regime's continued use of kidnapping, torture, and murder of Venezuelan citizens will not be tolerated by the U.S. or the international coalition that is united behind President Guaido," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. "Roberto Marrero and other political prisoners must be released immediately." The U.S. had already sanctioned scores of top Venezuelan officials and has blocked U.S. banks from doing business with that country, imposing a financial strangle-hold on the cash-strapped nation. The sanctions announced Friday also came as members of Congress from both parties condemned Marrero's arrest. They described it as a kidnapping.

      "The international community is closely watching Maduro's actions and will respond accordingly to any that threaten the safety of the opposition and Interim President Juan Guaidó," said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas. Trump is hosting the leaders of Jamaica, Bahamas, Haiti, Dominican Republic and St. Lucia at his Mar-a-Lago club to show his support for Caribbean countries that back democratic transition in Venezuela. The five have either denounced Maduro or joined more than 50 countries in recognizing Juan Guaido as the rightful interim leader of the nation. Trump told the leaders as the meeting kicked off that he would be "discussing ways that we can be beneficial to you and you can be beneficial to us."

LATIN AMERICAN PRESIDENTS SIGN SANTIAGO DECLARATION TO CREATE THE PROSUR

    SANTIAGO, CHILE   -- The presidents of Argentina, Mauricio Macri; Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro; Chile, Sebastián Piñera; Colombia, Iván Duque; Ecuador, Lenin Moreno Garcés, Peru Martín Vizcarra; Paraguay, Mario Abdo Benitez; and Guayana, David Arthur Granger, signed on Friday the Declaration of Santiago, by which the Prosur was created, the new space that seeks to replace Unasur. Uruguay, Bolivia and Suriname abstained, publishes Infobae . At the proposal of the Argentine Mauricio Macri, Sebastián Piñera will be president pro tempore of Prosur for a period of 12 months and the next summit will be in Paraguay.

     In the Palacio de La Moneda, where the presidents met, the three countries that abstained were represented by lower-ranking officials: Vice-Chancellor Carmen Almendras was in Bolivia; for Uruguay, the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Ariel Bergamino; and for Suriname, the ambassador in Santiago Marciano Edgar Armaketo. The text of the declaration makes an indirect reference to Venezuela, mentioning that only democratic countries can be part of the alliance.

    Around noon, the presidents began to hold sessions at the Palacio de la Moneda to debate the creation of the Forum for the Progress of South America (Prosur) and to bury the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), a multilateral creation designed by Hugo Chávez and Néstor Kirchner. In a clear allusion to the Venezuelan situation, the statement states: "That the essential requirements to participate in this space will be the full validity of democracy, of the respective constitutional orders, respect for the principle of separation of the Powers of the State, and the promotion, protection, respect and guarantee of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, with respect to international law. "

MARCH 22,  2019

VENEZUELAN INTERIM PRESIDENTE, JUAN GUAIDO, DENOUNCES THAT DICTATOR MADURO'S INTELLIGENCE AGENTS SEIZED HIS CHIEF OF STAFF

     CARACAS, VENEZUELA   --   Venezuelan INTERIM PRESIDENT JUAN GUAIDO  leader Juan Guaido said on Thursday intelligence agents had arrested his chief of staff following a pre-dawn raid, signaling that President Nicolas Maduro may be cracking down on the opposition's challenge to his rule. Guaido invoked the constitution in January to assume the interim presidency after declaring Maduro's 2018 re-election a fraud, and has been recognized by dozens of Western nations as the country's legitimate leader. Maduro, who has overseen a dramatic collapse of the OPEC nation's economy, has called Guaido a puppet of the United States and said he should "face justice," but has not explicitly ordered his arrest.

     "They have kidnapped @ROBERTOMARRERO, my chief of staff," Guaido said in a post on Twitter, adding the Caracas residences of Marrero and opposition legislator Sergio Vergara had been raided before dawn. "We do not know their whereabouts. They should be freed immediately." Venezuela's Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Guaido traveled around South America in February to drum up diplomatic support for his government, defying a travel ban imposed by the pro-government Supreme Court. He later entered the country via Venezuela's principal airport without being detained by immigration officials.

      Dozens of countries including the United States, major European powers and most South American nations have backed Guaido and say Maduro's rule is illegitimate. Venezuela is reeling from annual inflation topping 2 million percent, which has fueled malnutrition and preventable disease and spurred an exodus of more than 3 million citizens in since 2015. Maduro says his government is the victim of an "economic war" led by his political adversaries and blames U.S. financial and oil sector sanctions for the country's situation.

US VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: WE WILL NOT TOLERATE "INTIMIDATION OF THE LEGITIMATE GOVERNMENT AFTER ARREST OF ROBERTO MARRERO

 
    WASHINGTON, D.C.     --
   The houses of the chief of the office of the interim president of Venezuela Juan Guaidó, Roberto Marrero, and the deputy of the opposition National Assembly, Sergio Vergara, were raided at dawn on Thursday. The vice president of the USA Mike Pence reacted to the arrest of the head of the office of interim president of Venezuela Juan Guaidó, Roberto Marrero, early this Thursday and indicated that the US It will not "intimidate the legitimate government of the" South American country. In a message on his Twitter account, Pence calls for the immediate release of Marrero and ensures that those responsible will be identified.

      "The US calls for the immediate release of Roberto Marrero, head of the office of interim president of Venezuela Juan Guaidó, we will not tolerate Maduro stopping or intimidating the legitimate government of Venezuela, those responsible will be pointed out," said Pence. Earlier on Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday condemned the arrest of Venezuelan lawyer Roberto Marrero, chief of the office of President Juan Guaidó, in what he described as "raids" by the intelligence service (Sebin). responds to orders of the president in dispute Nicolás Maduro.

     For his part, the US National Security Adviser, John Bolton, also demanded the immediate release of the head of the Venezuelan interim president's office and warned that his detention "will not go unpunished." In his Twitter account, Bolton said that the president in dispute Nicolás Maduro "made another big mistake" with the "illegitimate arrest" of Guaidó's lawyer and chief of office, Roberto Marrero. "He should be released immediately and his security guaranteed," Bolton wrote on Twitter. Earlier on Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday condemned the arrest of Venezuelan lawyer Roberto Marrero, chief of the office of President Juan Guaidó, in what he described as "raids" by the intelligence service (Sebin). responds to orders of the president in dispute Nicolás Maduro.

EUROPEAN UNION DEMANDS "IMMEDIATE RELEASE"0F THE CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE INTERIM PRESIDENT JUAN GUAIDO

    GENEVA, SWITZERLAND    --  The European Union (EU) demanded the "immediate" release of Roberto Marrero, head of office of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó , and blamed the Venezuelan authorities for "his security and integrity." "The EU urges the immediate and unconditional release of Marreo and holds the competent authorities responsible for their security and integrity," Maja Kocijancic , spokeswoman for European diplomacy, said in a statement .

      Intelligence agents arrested Marrero at dawn on Thursday after raids on his residence and that of opposition deputy Sergio Vergara , who lives nearby, in the capital's Las Mercedes sector, complained Guaidó.

     For the EU , the "immunity of members of the National Assembly must be respected in all circumstances" and these "should be able to perform their duties without being intimidated, as well as defend their role and their prerogatives." "Such acts undermine the efforts of the international community to help foster a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela, " according to the statement of the spokeswoman for European diplomacy .

MARCH 21,  2019

PRESIDENT TRUMP BACKS NATO, OECD MEMBERSHIP FOR BRAZIL

     washington, d.c.    --   The leaders of the Western Hemisphere's two largest economies are pledging closer trade ties and enhanced military cooperation, with U.S. President Donald Trump even suggesting Brazil should be able to join the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO). Trump said for that to happen, however, he would "have to talk to a lot of people." The U.S. president, at a joint news conference with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, also pledged American support for Brazil to join the 36-member Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development (OECD), which includes most of the highly-developed economies.

    Bolsonaro, speaking in Portuguese, said his visit begins a new chapter of cooperation between Brazil and the United States, adding that with his recent election, "Brazil has a president who is not anti-American, which is unprecedented in recent decades." The retired military officer is known as the "Trump of the Tropics" for his far-right agenda of cracking down on crime and corruption, and nostalgia for Brazil's era of military dictatorship. The two leaders, who met for the first time Tuesday, also discussed their mutual support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been recognized as Venezuela's legitimate leader by most Western countries, including the United States and Brazil.

    "All options are open," Trump reiterated when asked by a reporter in the White House Rose Garden if military intervention in Venezuela by the United States is possible. Trump noted that Washington has yet to apply really tough sanctions on Caracas, where Nicolas Maduro — who the U.S. president called "Cuba's puppet" — remains in power with the backing of Venezuela's military. In oil-rich Venezuela there is no food, water or air-conditioning, according to Trump, while Bolsonaro said "people are starving to death" there. "We need to put an end to this," Bolsonaro added. Just ahead of the meeting between the two leaders, the United States and Brazil signed an agreement to support American space launches from Brazil. The State Department says the pact will ensure the proper handling of sensitive U.S. technology consisten

UN'S BACHELET: POLITICAL DIVISION WORSENING VENEZUELA'S HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION AND COULD SPEED UP DICTATOR MADURO"S DEPARTURE

 
    UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK     --
   The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, warns political divisions in Venezuela are worsening an already critical human rights and humanitarian situation in the country. In a report presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Bachelet urged the dissenting factions to resolve their political differences. Bachelet said escalating human rights violations are also leading to a further deterioration of the economic and social dynamics. She said it also is serving to destabilize conditions in the region. She noted more than 3 million people have fled to neighboring countries in search of food, health care, work and protection.

     Bachelet said peaceful protests and dissent are criminalized. She reports her office has documented numerous rights violations and abuses, including killings by security forces and pro-government armed groups. She says during nationwide anti-government protests earlier this year, people were threatened and intimidated, arbitrarily arrested, and subjected to torture and ill-treatment in detention. Bachelet said her office continues to investigate reports of hundreds of possible extrajudicial executions by the security forces known as FAES.
    
     “It appears that some of these killings have followed a similar pattern. They take place during illegal house raids carried out by the FAES, which subsequently reports the death as resulting from an armed confrontation — although witnesses report the victims were unarmed. Most of the victims live in poor neighborhoods and participated in anti-government protests, and I am particularly concerned about reports that indicate that this type of operation is used as a form of reprisal and intimidation,” she said.

CITIGROUP TO SELL VENEZUELAN GOLD IN SETBACK TO DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO
 

     WASHINGTON, D.C.   -- Citigroup Inc plans to sell several tons of gold placed as collateral by Venezuela’s central bank on a $1.6 billion loan after the deadline for repurchasing them expired this month, sources said, a setback for President Nicolas Maduro’s efforts to hold onto the country’s fast-shrinking reserves. Maduro’s government has since 2014 used financial operations known as gold swaps to use its international reserves to gain access to cash after a slump in oil revenues left it struggling to obtain hard currency. In the past two years, however, it has struggled to recover its collateral. Under the terms of the 2015 deal with Citigroup’s Citibank, Venezuela was due to repay $1.1 billion of the loan on March 11, according to four sources familiar with the situation. The remainder of the loan comes due next year.

     Citibank plans to sell the gold held as a guarantee - which has a market value of roughly $1.358 billion - to recover the first tranche of the loan and will deposit the excess of roughly $258 million in a bank account in New York, two of the sources said. The ability of Maduro’s government to repay the loans have been complicated by the South American country’s dire economic situation as well as financial sanctions imposed by the United States and some European nations. Most Western nations say that Maduro’s re-election to a six-year term last year was marred by fraud and have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president. Guaido invoked Venezuela’s constitution to announce an interim presidency in January. However, Maduro retains control over state institutions in Venezuela and has the support of the powerful military.

    He has branded Guaido a U.S. puppet. With Washington’s support, Guaido’s team has taken control of state oil company PDVSA’s U.S. refining subsidiary but its attempt to negotiate a 120-day extension of the repurchase deadline for the collateral was unsuccessful, the sources said. “Citibank was told that there was a force majeure event in Venezuela, so the grace period was necessary, but they did not grant it,” said one of the sources, who belongs to Guaido’s team. A Venezuelan government source familiar with the matter confirmed that the country’s Central Bank did not transfer the money to Citibank this month. In a report presented to the U.S. securities regulator in February, Citibank said Venezuela’s Central Bank had agreed four years ago to buy back in March 2019 a “significant volume of gold” as part of a contract signed to obtain some $1.6 billion. Citibank said that, following the transaction, it owned the gold.

MARCH 20,  2019

JAIR BOLSONARO: WE Have TO HAVE the support of the us to get freedom for venezuela

     washington, d.c.    --   Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro called on Monday for his country and the United States to liberate Venezuela, one day before his meeting with Donald Trump in the White House in which this crisis will have a preponderant place. "We must solve the problem of our Venezuela. Venezuela can not continue like this. They must be released. And obviously we believe and we have the support of the United States to achieve this goal, "he said in a speech before the US Chamber of Commerce. Bolsonaro arrived in Washington on Sunday afternoon, on his first official trip abroad since he took office on January 1, a tour that seeks to seal a nascent conservative alliance. After Bolsonaro's speech, the spokesman of the Brazilian government, Otçávio Régo Barros, told the press: "The issue of Venezuela has to be resolved and we have our diplomacy."

     The fierce opposition to the regime of Nicolás Maduro, which they consider a "dictatorship", is one of the issues in which Trump and Bolsonaro converge the most. The United States, which together with 50 other countries - among them Brazil - has recognized Juan Guaidó as president in charge, has applied economic sanctions and an embargo against Venezuela's oil. For Bolsonaro, the visit is a showcase to promote business and investment, which took the opportunity to sign a technology safeguards agreement that will allow the use of the base of Alcántara (northern Brazil) for the launching of US rockets. His decision to break the tradition of the new Brazilian leaders to make his first official visit to Argentina is a gesture that Trump corresponded to lodging Bolsonaro in Blair House, the official residence for guests located in front of the White House. "Our goal is clear: We want Brazil among the freest economies in the world!" Bolsonaro said on Twitter.

     The space agreement was signed at 5:30 pm (21:30 GMT) at the Washington Chamber of Commerce, where the Brazilian president gave a speech. The base of Alcántara, in the state of Maranhao, has an ideal location for the launches, since it is very close to the line of the Equator, which allows saving up to 30% of the fuel or carrying more cargo. The agreement must be approved by the Brazilian Congress, and many nationalist sectors see it as a risk of loss of sovereignty. Bolsonaro traveled accompanied by six ministers, including Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes and Justice and Security Minister Sergio Moro. During the day, Bolsonaro visited the headquarters of the CIA to discuss organized crime and drug trafficking, as well as other important issues for the Brazilian security forces.

juan guaido: nicolas maduro's restructuring of the government shows weaknessES

 
     caracas, venezuela     --
   Venezuela’s interim President Juan Guaido, recognized by more than 50 countries, said on Monday that the weekend announcement of a restructuring of the Nicolas Maduro regime shows “great weakness” and insisted that “the chain of command is broken.” “There’s no cabinet, there’s a usurpation of duties ... What I see is a very weak regime, a regime that has no answers, a regime that doesn’t govern but rather sings of victory for having one more day during which it usurped duties,” Guaido told reporters. Maduro’s vice president, Delcy Rodriguez, announced on Sunday via Twitter that the leftist incumbent had asked all the members of his Cabinet to submit resignation letters with an eye toward thoroughly restructuring the regime to “armor the homeland” against any “threat.”

     From the parliamentary headquarters, where he held a meeting with workers and the opposition Free Venezuela Broad Front, Guaido expressed on Monday doubts about the truthfulness of the vice president’s announcement. “I don’t know if Maduro backs that or not ... or if they’re playing a power game among themselves,” he said, adding that “many have already left and are not here and therefore want to replace something or other.” The Maduro regime has not yet announced who will hold the portfolios in the new Cabinet. Venezuela is going through a serious political crisis that entered a new phase in January when Maduro was inaugurated for a second six-year term after winning elections the previous May that were widely viewed – by the domestic opposition and by countries and institutions abroad – as being illegitimate because key opposition figures were banned from running, among other things.

     In response to Maduro’s inauguration, Guaido swore in as interim president claiming that the protege of – and successor to – the late Hugo Chavez had usurped the presidency by winning a fraudulent election. Guaido subsequently received the support of more than 50 countries, including the United States, which has been pressuring Maduro to step down, most of the nations in Latin America and about 20 countries in Europe. Amid the governability crisis, Guaido has been consistent in calling for Venezuelan officials to refuse to recognize Maduro as president. In response, Maduro has regularly charged that the opposition is mounting a coup d’etat under the direction of the US.

DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO'S PROTECTION IS IN THE HANDS OF THE CUBAN SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE SERVICES

     CARACAS, VENEZUELA   --Maduro's faith in his own military may continue to wane, but at least for now he has the support of his armed forces, which has really kept him in power. Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro is increasingly leaning on the protection and support of his Cuban backers, amid mounting global pressures to leave office, according to several senior U.S. officials. Adm. Craig Faller, head of U.S. Southern Command, told U.S. senators on Thursday that Havana “owns the security around Maduro and is deeply entrenched in the intelligence service.” The U.S. and dozens of other nations have recognized Juan Guaido, president of the country's National Assembly, as Venezuela's interim president, saying Maduro is no longer fit to govern. But despite international c alls to step down and protests against his regime over the weekend, Maduro has clung to power, retaining allegiance from Venezuela's military.

      But while the military remains on his side, the Pentagon said it's not the embattled president's own forces ensuring his safety -- it's members of Cuba's security service. “I think it's a good sense for where the loyalty of the Venezuelan people are that his immediate security force is made up of Cubans,” Faller told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Cuba is “inextricably intertwined in all areas of Venezuela,” he said. Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the United Nations Security Council, “No regime has done more to sustain the nightmarish condition of the Venezuelan people than the regime in Havana.”

     Maduro's faith in his own military may continue to wane, but at least for now he has the support of his armed forces, which has really kept him in power. “I think Maduro relies on more than just the Cuban people around him to stay in power,” Ted Piccone, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said. “The Venezuela military is fragmenting a little bit, but still unified at least at the senior level behind Maduro.” Cuba has long involved itself in Venezuela, but the relationship became particularly close after Venezuela's former president, Hugo Chavez, came to power two decades ago. “The Cuba-Venezuela relationship is very close and has been this way since Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro embraced each other,” Piccone said, describing it as a son-father relationship. Havana benefited from subsidized oil from Venezuela that floated Cuba's economy for a long time, he added. In return, Cuba provided social welfare services, including hundreds of doctors, to Venezuela. But the nation also sent its security and intelligence advisers, who have trained and influenced Venezuela's military.

MARCH 19,  2019

THE rich LIFEstyle OF GENERAL VLADIMIR PADRINO LOPEZ'S CHILDREN IN MADRID

     MADRID, SPAIN    --   While Venezuela was paralyzed and without light for more than 80 hours due to what is considered the worst blackout in the history of the country, Padrino López's son, Mitchell Padrino, was at a party organized by him in Madrid, city where he resides with his sister Yarazetd. Venezuela not only lives a crisis in its electrical system. The firm Analytical Eco calculates that the minimum salary of Venezuelans is equivalent to US $ 6, and to be able to have access to the basic basket the Venezuelan needs at the minimum the same amount. On the other hand, the Living Conditions Survey (Encové) ensures that 80% of Venezuelans are food insecure, while 89% of families do not have enough income to compare food.

     This is a reality very different from the one lived by the children of the Minister of Popular Power for Defense and defender of the Chavista regime, Padrino López. For two years, the first-born of one of those close to Maduro's circle live in the city of Madrid without changing the luxuries they had when they lived in Caracas. Although they no longer hold parties at the mansion where they lived with their parents in the La Trinidad urbanization, now they celebrate them in the expensive premises of Madrid. In a video broadcast on Instagram one can see Padrino López's son, Mitchell, in an eccentric party organized by him in a Madrid venue called Casa Suecia, on the 11th floor of the NH Collection hotel, on Calle Marqués de Casa Riera, with a panoramic view of Madrid, a sample of his life without restrictions.

     The video shows a lot of people dancing, laughing and recording with their cell phones the ostentatious party. Mitchell appears smoking a Hooka on a table full of several bottles, but the most striking which has caused the most indignation in the people who have seen the video, is the blue pills that the young man swallows. As a result of the video publication, Senator Marco Rubio wrote on his Twitter account: "While people in Venezuela do not have food, drink contaminated water and die from lack of dialysis, the ABC newspaper catches the son of Vladimir Padrino López in parties in Madrid consuming ecstasy pills. Spain should revoke its visa.

U.S. SANCTIONED VENEZUELAN GENERAL DEFECTED TO COLOMBIA

 
     BOGOTA, COLOMBIA     --
   A Venezuelan general who is under U.S. sanction for incompetent management of a state medicine program has fled to Colombia amid growing pressure on President Nicolas Maduro, two sources familiar with the matter said on Monday. The United States in 2018 sanctioned army General Carlos Rotondaro, former head of a government agency that provided medicine for chronic health conditions, as part of efforts to "highlight the economic mismanagement and endemic corruption" by Maduro's government.

     Rotondaro has left for Colombia and has joined forces with former Venezuelan Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega, who is working to have Maduro removed from office, according to one of the sources. Venezuela's Information Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Reuters was unable to immediately obtain comment from Rotondaro. High-ranking military officers are seen as crucial to keeping Maduro in power in the face of a hyperinflationary economic collapse that has fueled hunger and preventable disease and led to an exodus of some 3 million people since 2015. The Venezuelan Social Security Institute for years imported and distributed medication for diseases such as cancer at no cost to patients.

    But amid the country's economic crisis, it ran up huge debts with pharmaceutical companies and was unable to continue delivering medicine, leaving millions unable to obtain treatment for chronic diseases. Maduro says the country is victim of an "economic war" led by political adversaries with the help of the United States. Most Western nations have disavowed his government in favor of Juan Guaido, head of Congress, who invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency in January after declaring Maduro's 2018 re-election a fraud.

SOME 1,000 VENEZUELAN SOLDIERS WHO DESERTED THEIR UNITS HAVE BEEN WELCOMED BY COLOMBIA

     BOGOTA, COLOMBIA   --The Venezuelan soldiers who DESERTED THEIR UNITS AND ESCAPED TO COLOMBIA  in search of protection, now remain in the custody of the Colombian Public Force after a process that includes the delivery of their weapons. "Since last February 23, there has been the arrival in Colombia of about 1,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces and about 400 members of their families, in search of protection," explains the text of the Colombian Foreign Ministry . The ex-military and their families process refugee applications and receive safeguards that will allow them to remain in Colombian territory while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advances the corresponding procedures.

      The president in charge of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, thanked the soldiers who cross to Colombia for "courage and patriot spirit" by leaving the ranks of the forces that support the president in dispute Nicolás Maduro. In spite of international calls and of Guaidó himself to the military to support the peaceful transition in Venezuela, the military high command continues on the side of Maduro, whom they recognize as the legitimate president of Venezuela. During the reception process, the military and their families are often interviewed by immigration authorities and receive basic health care, legal support, temporary housing and food.

     The statement expresses what the current crisis in Venezuela means to Colombia, where more and more Venezuelans are fleeing the country to escape hunger, shortages and the deterioration of the human rights situation. "Colombia has faced the most complex and challenging migration crisis in its history with generosity and determination, with total openness and transparency, but this demands the active collaboration of the international community," the text indicates. The Foreign Ministry thanked the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for responding positively to requests from the Colombian government to provide logistical support for the care of refugee claimants.

MARCH 18,  2019

SENATOR TIM KAINE PROMOTES INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE TO FIGHT DICTATOR MADURO

     CUCUTA, COLOMBIA    --  US Senator Tim Kaine assured this Saturday in the Colombian city of Cúcuta that the most important action to help Venezuela get out of the humanitarian crisis it is experiencing is the pressure of the international community to the regime of Nicolás Maduro. "The most important thing is the pressure from the international community, we have 55 nations that support the government of Juan Guaidó, but we need more," the Democratic parliamentarian told reporters on the Simón Bolívar bridge, the main border crossing between Colombia and Venezuela.

     The border with Venezuela is closed since February 23 when Maduro broke relations with Colombia and blocked the border crossings after the frustrated attempt by the interim president of that country, Juan Guaidó, to take humanitarian aid, an initiative that ended in an outbreak of violence. During his visit to that border crossing, which connects Cúcuta with San Antonio del Táchira, Kaine was accompanied, among others, by Venezuelan deputies Gaby Arellano and José Manuel Olivares, as well as by the Colombian ambassador to the United States, Francisco Santos. We accompanied Senator @timkaine to visit the warehouse where humanitarian aid is stored, which thanks to the support of many countries we have been able to collect.

     Soon it will help will reach all Venezuelan patients. The US Congressman explained that it is key to increase the international pressure on Maduro to increase sanctions against the regime's leaders, as well as to pardon those who decide to "change their direction, support the government of Guaidó and stop their activities against human rights" In that sense, he pointed out that in the Congress of his country there is no division on what has to be done to face the Venezuelan crisis. "Republicans and Democrats are in a bipartisan agreement that we must support the Venezuelan people, and we are going to do it," he said.

VENEZUELAN MILITARY IN CUCUTA WILL BE SERVED BY THE VENEZUELAN EMBASSY IN COLOMBIA

 
     BOGOTA, COLOMBIA     --
  Humberto Calderón Berti, ambassador in Colombia appointed by the president of the Parliament and interim of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, speaks during a press conference on Monday, in Bogotá (Colombia). Calderón Berti presented his credentials today to Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo. EFE / Juan Páez From February 23, in the heat of the violence unleashed in the border bridges so that humanitarian aid did not enter Venezuela, the desertion of Police and National Guards brought together a contingent of close to 700 between men and women who decided to cross the border to separate themselves from Maduro and recognize Juan Guaidó as president of the Venezuelans.

     As a result of that action, they passed into the category of former officials and of passage on foreign soil, a place where their presence has become heavier with each day they spend in that kind of limbo in which they have remained. Because although it is true that they were received with the sympathy of the moment, it is also true that each person requires minimum conditions to carry each day with dignity and decorum. And for this you need the money that can afford a stay that seems to go long and the conditions for what they have expressed, are not precisely to have adequate food and shelter.

      However, Humberto Calderón Berti, the man in charge of the Venezuelan embassy in Colombia, assured that the problems raised by this contingent of Venezuelans in expatriate status will be addressed. The Embassy of Venezuela in Colombia, together with the effective and solidary action of the Colombian Foreign Ministry authorities, the Ministry of Defense, Migration and the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management, UNGRD, have been working together to address the more than 1000 Venezuelan military personnel, who are in Colombian territory, especially in the city of Cúcuta. These compatriots have arrived in the Colombian territory as a result of the deep crisis that exists in Venezuela which affects the entire population, among them the members of our FAN. These Venezuelan soldiers have been given temporary assistance consisting of accommodation and food.

ARUBA WILL RESUME REFINERY REFURBISHMENT AFTER EXEMPTION FROM US SANCTIONS

     WASHINGTON, D.C.   --Aruba will resume a refurbishment project at a refinery of 209,000 barrels per day (bpd), a unit of Citgo Petroleum Corp, the island's prime minister said on Sunday, after a change in sanctions over the oil company last week. The United States imposed sanctions in January on Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, to pressure for the departure of Nicolás Maduro, who is not recognized by the United States and 50 other countries as legitimate of the oil nation.

     "Now, American authorities have approved to unblock the sums necessary for phase 2 continuity and employees will return to their jobs," Evelyn Wever-Croes, Caribbean island's prime minister, said in a statement. In the statement, he did not specify when the project will be restarted. "We continue in the struggle so that now every refinery worker can have his job back," he added. The sanctions forced Citgo Aruba to suspend a $ 685 million agreement with the island's government, reached in 2016, to renew and reopen the inactive refinery previously operated by US refiner Valero Energy.

     As a result, the company dismissed workers and the prime minister asked the United States to lift the sanctions that prevented financing the renovation project. Last week, the US Treasury Department granted Citgo, a subsidiary owned by PDVSA, 18 more months to buy crude and make debt payments, while its parent company is under sanctions. Wever-Croes said the measure will allow remodeling projects to continue and for workers to return to their jobs.

MARCH 16,  2019

JUAN GUAIDO, THE INTERIM PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA, AFFIRMS THAT HIS IMPRISONMENT WOULD HAVE BEEN ONE OF MADURO'S LAST MISTAKES

     CARACAS, VENEZUELA    -- Venezuela’s interim president JUAN GUAIDO said Sunday that if he WOULD HAVE BEEN ARRESTE  arrested upon his return to the country, it would HAVE BEEN one of the last mistakes ever made by his country’s government. at the time, Juan Guaido was broadcasting live on social networks to give details of the visit he was planning to make to five Latin American countries and called for a “mass protest” for the following Monday at 11am upon his return.He then repeated his warning: "If the regime dares to abduct me, it will be one of the last mistakes, no doubt, that (President Nicolas Maduro’s government) will make," Guaido, who has been recognized by more than 50 countries, said.

     The head of parliament assured that in the event that he is detained - because he flouted a travel ban placed on him by a court - his international allies, headed by the United States government, have "clear instructions." He did not reveal further details. The government would be carrying out "a coup d'état" if he is arrested, he said, and in the face of this he has left "very clearly the steps to follow," which include the mobilization of citizens through public demonstrations. "I appreciate the support given to us by our brother countries Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Ecuador during our international tour. Thanks to all the peoples of the region who are with us in this crusade that transcends left and right," he said on Twitter. His followers called for rallies in Venezuela's 23 states as well as in Caracas, where he is expected to reappear in public.

     To date, Maduro's main detractor has kept secret the details of how he plans to re-enter Venezuela after circumventing the travel ban last week when he walked across the border into Colombia. So far neither the Attorney General's Office, nor the Supreme Court, nor any of the top leaders of the so-called Bolivarian Revolution have spoken out about Guaido's return, but his closest circle considers the threat of detention to be real. US National Security Advisor John Bolton warned against the arrest of Guaido in a tweet Sunday. “Any threats or acts against his safe return will be met with a strong and significant response from the United States and the international community,” Bolton said.

THE MESSAGE FROM THE US CHARGE D'AFFAIRS IN VENEZUELA: "THE PEOPLE TOOK TO THE STREETS AND SAID ENOUGH  IS ENOUGH" 

 
     WASHINGTON, D.C.    --
transition The message from the US Charge d'Affaires in Venezuela: "The people took to the streets and said enougUnited States announced on Thursday that all its diplomatic personnel have already withdrawn from Venezuela. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that his presence will be restored "once the transition to democracy has begun." After the announcement, who manifested himself, through a video, was the Chargé d'Affaires, James Story. "During my stay in his beautiful country, I have been able to admire the solidarity, strength, optimism and entrepreneurial spirit that characterize them.Unfortunately, I have also witnessed the suffering of the Venezuelan people because of the humanitarian crisiscaused by corruption and the poor management of the regime, "said the diplomat in the beginning of the video of just over two minutes.

       In his message to the Venezuelan people, he accused Nicolás Maduro's dictatorship of "systematically" violating the Constitution, disabling political parties, imprisoning opposition leaders and railing "with anyone who dares to raise his voice against" the regime. After the recent events in the Caribbean country, Story stressed that it was clear "that the Venezuelan people do not support the regime": "The people took to the streets and said enough is enough". He also hoped that Venezuelans will remain "strong and committed to change" and assured that they are "on the right side of history."

     "Support the president in charge Juan Guaidó and his team, I urge all public employees to think if their lives are better or worse than before, if the threat of the collectives is the way to defend the Constitution and their fellow citizens," he said. To close his message, he said that the United States will continue working so that Venezuela "returns to the path of democracy." "And I hope to return soon to end my stay as representative of the United States in a free and prosperous Venezuela," he concluded. "Today, all the US diplomats who remained in Venezuela have left the country," Pompeo said in a statement. On January 23, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced the breakdown of diplomatic relations with the United States, after Washington recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president, and ordered all US diplomats out of the country.

A FORMER CHAVISTA ENERGY MINISTER WARNED THAT ANOTHER BLACKOUT IS IMMINENT IN VENEZUELA

     CARACAS, VENEZUELA   --Víctor Poleo said the system will collapse "at any time because it is extremely fragile." He assured that the Maduro regime lies when talking about a 100% recovery The national electricity system faced its fire test today, a week after the blackout that left almost the entire country without power, with the restart of work activities, the skepticism of Venezuelans and the warnings of experts who affirm that the emergency continues. For Víctor Poleo, former vice minister of Energy and Mines (1999-2001), the government of Nicolás Maduro "lies when he says that the electricity system has recovered 100%, because the reality is that we have a very unstable system." "The blackout can be repeated at any time because the situation of the system is extremely fragile.There is a deficit of 3 thousand megawatts, that is, the demand is greater than the supply, and now the activity that was dead for seven days begins" , expressed in dialogue with ANSA.

     He stressed that "they are sacrificing regions of the country, mainly Zulia (west of Caracas) taking power to give it to (the state) Hidrocapital to bring water from the Tuy system to Caracas." "This is how the government believes that everything is normalized," he criticized. When making an analysis of the electricity sector, he said that, on the thermoelectric side, "the big plants: Tacoa, Centro plant and Zulia thermo are unavailable, there is no fuel because the oil industry, like the electric industry, is in ruins". In addition, he said that "gas and diesel are not being refined, and there is no natural gas because there is no oil production that is below 1,000,000 barrels a day." "They are trying to change crude oil that is stored in the José cryogenic complex, in Puerto La Cruz (Anzoátegui), for gasoline and diesel, but the tankers are warned that they are under sanctions," he said. Poleo stressed that "the gasoline inventories are few, so all the electricity generation rests in the Caroni (Bolivar, South) that is mistreated after this blackout."

     "The government can not say that the situation is stable, it is a deception because the situation is not rewarding, it is rather depressing," he said. The lack of energy left millions of Venezuelans without water. To survive, many had to collect water released through a sewage drainage that feeds the Guaire River, which transports most of the city's wastewater in Caracas. In his opinion, the collapse of the system considered in the twentieth century as a reference in Latin America, will not return, and its reconstruction will take time because "this chaos was created by intentionality, militarization, and de-professionalization." "How can a General of the National Guard be directing the oil industry or the electric industry? We are far from being stable," he said indignantly. He considered that to change this situation "an urgent political change is required because the nation is ruined and the people die of decline". "We are still in emergency," he said.

MARCH 15,  2019

INDIA'S RELIANCE INDUSTRIES HALTS DILUENTS EXPORT TO VENEZUELA, NOT RAISED OIL BUYING

     NEW DELHI, INDIA  -- India’s Reliance Industries Ltd, operator of the world’s biggest refining complex, said on Wednesday it had halted supply of diluents to Venezuela’s national oil company PDVSA and will not resume such sales until sanctions are lifted. Washington is preparing to impose “very significant” Venezuela-related sanctions against financial institutions in the coming days, U.S. special envoy Elliott Abrams said on Tuesday. PDVSA was importing about 100,000 bpd of naphtha, mostly from the United states, to dilute up to 400,000 bpd of extra heavy oil and make it exportable. Reliance, an Indian conglomerate controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, has significant exposure to the financial system of the United States, where it operates some subsidiaries that are linked to its oil and telecom businesses among others.

     Reliance has not increased oil purchases from Venezuela, the company said in response to a Reuters email seeking comment. In 2012 Reliance, Venezuela’s key oil client, signed a 15-year deal to buy between 300,000-400,000 barrels per day (bpd) of heavy oil from PDVSA. Ship tracking data obtained by Reuters showed that Reliance averages purchase from Venezuela were below 300,000 bpd in 2018 and in January this year. “Our U.S. subsidiary has completely stopped all business with Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA, and its global parent has not increased crude purchases,” it said. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump imposed sweeping sanctions on PDVSA in January, aimed at severely curbing the OPEC member’s crude exports to the United States to pressure socialist President Nicolas Maduro to step down.

      “Since the U.S. government imposed sanctions on the government of Venezuela in late January 2019, Reliance Industries Ltd has been in close contact with representatives from the U.S. State Department to ensure full compliance,” Reliance said. The Indian market is crucial for Venezuela’s economy because it has historically been the second-largest cash-paying customer for the OPEC country’s crude, behind the United States. “We will continue a constructive dialogue with the U.S. government to ensure Reliance remains in compliance,” it said. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on Monday and discussed India’s purchases of oil from the Maduro-led government. “We are asking the same thing of India as we are of every country: do not be the economic lifeline for the Maduro regime,” Pompeo said.

JUAN GUAIDO SAYS VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION HAD SECRET TALKS WITH THE MILITARY 

 
     CARACAS, VENEZUELA    --
  Juan Guaidó, the Venezuelan opposition leader, wrote in an opinion article published Wednesday evening that his opposition coalition had met with members of the powerful armed forces to galvanize support for a change in government. Guaidó, the head of the country’s National Assembly, last week declared himself interim president in a direct challenge to Nicolás Maduro, who has held on to power despite a widely discredited election and an economic and humanitarian disaster precipitated by his government’s mismanagement. In the days since, more than two dozen countries, including the United States and many Latin American nations, have thrown their support behind Guaidó.

     On Thursday, the European Parliament recognized him as the country’s legitimate leader. The American government has imposed sanctions intended to force out Mr. Maduro, but he has the support of some other nations, including Russia and China. Ultimately, though, the fate of the two leaders may be decided by Venezuela’s military, which plays an outsize role in the country’s politics as a power broker. “We have had clandestine meetings with members of the armed forces and the security forces,” he wrote. “We have offered amnesty to all those who are found not guilty of crimes against humanity.”

     Although Mr. Guaidó’s offer of amnesty and outreach to the military had been reported previously, it was the first time he had publicly acknowledged the clandestine meetings. His comments came days before a planned protest on Saturday, the latest in a series of public displays of outrage at Mr. Maduro. On Thursday, while Mr. Guaidó was speaking to a crowd at the Central University of Venezuela, members of the Special Actions Force, or FAES, a national police unit known for being Mr. Maduro’s enforcers, went to his home, he said

THE U.S. ACCUSED VENEZUELA, CUBA, IRAN AND CHINA OF COMMITTING HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

     WASHINGTON, D.C.   --  The United States accused Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran and China as countries where serious violations of human rights were committed, and also highlighted the critical situation of those freedoms that are experienced in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Russia, in the annual report of the Department of State on human rights. The report, relating to 2018 and which serves as a reference to Congress when granting foreign aid, contains information on some 200 countries around the world and identifies several worrisome global trends, such as human trafficking, corruption and violations of freedoms. civilians In a press conference, the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, explained that the documentation of "abuses" serves to "provoke changes" in governments around the world and "put an end to their brutalities."

      "I wish I could say that this year's report is immaculate, that it has improved the situation, but it is not the case, take Iran's example." Last year the regime killed more than 20 people and detained thousands without due process. for protesting their rights, "he said. In its report, the State Department denounced "harsh tactics" against protesters during the protests in Iran, which began in December 2017 and mentioned that human rights organizations have reported thousands of arrests and "suspicious deaths" of detainees. . In addition, ironically, Pompeo considered that China "plays in its own league of human rights" and denounced that the Chinese communist regime has intensified its campaign against Muslim minorities, including the Uyghurs and Kazakhs, as well as their internment in the so-called " reeducation camps. "|

      In this regard, Michael Kozak, responsible for human rights of the State Department, considered that these fields "seek to erase the DNA" and "culture" of Muslim minorities in China and said that this is one of the "most serious problems" that the world faces today. The United States assured that the Venezuelan regime increased the repression after the failed drone attack against the dictator Nicolás Maduro, citing as an example the detention of Deputy Juan Requesens, accused of being an accomplice of that attack. The State Department said there is "credible information" about tortures and abuses committed by Venezuelan security forces, which it considers to be "politicized" and influenced by the Maduro regime. "The situation of Human Rights is terrible, I think it is well documented in this report, this report goes only until the end of the year and the situation has only worsened since then," Kozak said. The report also highlights the "increasingly authoritarian" character of the Venezuelan government and criticizes the "deeply fraudulent" May elections, in which Maduro was re-elected and allowed him to regain office on January 10.

MARCH 14,  2019

BELIEVE IT OR NOT!  SINCE POPE FRANCIS DOESN'T WANT TO DO ANYTHING WITH HIM, DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO IMPLORES GOD TO "EXTEND HIS HAND AND OPEN THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN HIS GOVERNMENT AND THE USA

     CARAcas, venezuela  -- Venezuelan dictator, Nicolás Maduro, asked GOD Tuesday to "EXTEND his hand" and MEND the battered relations between his country and the USA, whose Administration does not recognize him and has asked him on multiple occasions to leave the power he has exercised since 2013, reported EFE. "I ask GOD to put his hand and change the course of this conspiracy and open the floodgates to a negotiation process and agreements between the Government of President Donald Trump and the Bolivarian Government," the dictator said when referring to alleged plans of Washington to evict him from power.

    The tensions between the Chavez regime and the US grew notably last January, when the Trump Administration recognized as president in charge of Venezuela the opponent leader and head of Parliament, Juan Guaidó. This decision caused Maduro to order the rupture of bilateral relations, which was followed by economic sanctions by Washington against Venezuelan officials and industries, including oil. However, the two countries had agreed to negotiate the opening of interest offices, but this process was also interrupted after Washington announced its decision to withdraw its remaining diplomatic staff in Caracas, although Maduro said on Tuesday that his government expelled them. to avoid some "false positive".

     In this regard, the dictator said he wants to continue these negotiations with the accompaniment of the United Nations (UN), while insisting that a relationship of "respect, altitude and cooperation" between the two nations is possible. "I believe in negotiation, I believe in diplomacy because I believe in peace, I do not lose hope (for better relations)," he said. Venezuela still suffers the consequences of the worst blackout in its history: A part of Venezuela still suffered from lack of water although electricity had already been restored in most of the country, interrupted six days ago by the worst blackout in its history. Most of Caracas had recovered electricity, but states such as Mérida, Táchira, Trujillo, Zulia and Apure, in the west of the country, had large areas without power, according to an AFP report. The prosecutor's office, declared that it has opened a criminal investigation for "sabotage" against Guaidó, who, however, affirmed that nothing will stop him until Maduro get out of power to have "free elections."

USA: DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO REGIME INCREASED REPRESSION AFTER THE "FAILED"  DRONE ATTACK

 
     CARACAS, VENEZUELA    --
   ELLIOTT ABRAMS said that the Chávez regime increased repression after the failed drone attack against Nicolás Maduro, citing as an example the detention of Juan Requesens, accused of being an accomplice in that attack. In its annual human rights report for 2018, the State Department said that there is "credible information" about torture and abuse committed by Venezuelan security forces, which it considers to be "politicized" and influenced by the Maduro regime."The situation of Human Rights is terrible, I think it is well documented in this report. This report goes only until the end of the year and the situation has only worsened since then, "Michael Kozak, head of Human Rights at the State Department, told a news conference.

     For Washington, one of the turning points in the human rights situation in Venezuela occurred on August 4, when Maduro suffered a failed drone attack while giving a speech for the 81st anniversary of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB). "The government increased its attacks against civil liberties after the alleged and failed presidential assassination attempt on August 4," the State Department said in its report. Next, USA highlights the arrest on August 7 of Requesens for "masked men" of the intelligence of the country, while Maduro accused him on television of the attack against him.

      According to the US, which cites press articles and information from several NGOs, Requesens has been held in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day, has not been able to receive adequate medical attention and has not been guaranteed the right to a trial. fair, although their conditions of detention have improved slightly since December. In its report, the State Department cites 2,000 cases of arbitrary arrests and 286 "political prisoners", documented by the NGO Penal Forum, which ensures that this figure - which dates from November 18 - is less than the 676 "political prisoners" produced the wave of protests of 2017. USA highlights in his report the "increasingly authoritarian" character of the Chavez regime and criticizes the "deeply fraudulent" May elections, in which Maduro was re-elected and that allowed him to regain illegitimate possession of his position on January 10.

ELLIOTT ABRAMS: US PLANS "VERY SIGNIFICANT" ADDITIONAL SANCTIONS AGAINST VENEZUELA

     WASHINGTON, D.C.   --  The United States is preparing to impose "very significant" Venezuela-related sanctions against financial institutions in the coming days, U.S. special envoy Elliott Abrams said on Tuesday. Abrams did not elaborate on the fresh measures but his warning came a day after the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on Russian bank Evrofinance Mosnarbank for helping Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA evade U.S. financial restrictions. Abrams said Washington was also preparing to withdraw more U.S. visas from Venezuelans with close ties to President Nicolas Maduro.

    Washington has taken the lead in recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's rightful president after the 35-year-old Congress chief declared Maduro's 2018 re-election a fraud and announced an interim presidency in January. Most countries in Europe and Latin America have followed suit. Abrams' comments came as Venezuela ordered American diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours. Washington said it had decided to withdraw the remaining diplomats due to deteriorating conditions in Venezuela, which has been plunged into its worst blackout on record. Abrams emphasized that the withdrawal of diplomats was not a change in U.S. policy. "This does not represent any change in U.S. policy toward Venezuela, nor does it represent any reduction in the commitment we have to the people of Venezuela and to their struggle for democracy," he said, adding that the U.S. intended to keep up pressure on Maduro through sanctions.

     "You will see very soon a significant number of additional visa revocations. You will see in the coming days some very significant additional sanctions," Abrams added. He said the United States was in talks with other countries that could act as its "protecting power" in Venezuela to ensure the safety of the U.S. embassy's premises and provide assistance to Americans in trouble. A "protecting power" is a country that represents another in cases where two countries have broken off diplomatic relations. Washington, for example, has appointed Switzerland as its "protecting power" in Iran. "We are trying to decide on a protecting power," Abrams said. He said the safety of U.S. diplomats was a key factor in the withdrawal decision reached by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the late hours of Monday night.

MARCH 13,  2019

THE NATIONAL  ASSEMBLY ORDERS TO STOP SENDING VENEZUELAN OIL TO CUBA

     CARAcas, venezuela  --  The Naciomal Assembly decreed on Monday to suspend the supply of oil to Cuba, arguing the "dire situation" that represents the blackout that has kept the country collapsed for four days. The decree was approved at the request of the president of the Legislature, Juan Guaidó. However, its application is unlikely because the socialist president Nicolás Maduro has the support of the Armed Forces, one of whose generals runs the crippled oil industry, and controls virtually all institutions.

     In defending the measures before the Congress, Guaidó advocated for "fuel savings" at a time when Venezuela faces a worsening of the shortage of water, food and access to health in the wake of the longest blackout in its history. "The immediate suspension of the supply of crude oil, fuel and its derivatives is ordered" to Cuba, said Guaidó, calling for demonstrations across the country on Tuesday to protest against Maduro, whom he blames for the electric collapse due to "apathy and corruption." " Guaidó accuses Cuba of interference and denounces that elements of Cuban intelligence make up the Venezuelan state apparatus. Cuba denies intervention

    For its part, Cuba assured that it does not intervene in the internal affairs of Venezuela. In its declaration, the "Revolutionary Government" rejected "categorically the lie spread" by the United States that Cuba has "between 20 and 25 thousand military personnel in Venezuela", and "any suggestion that there is some degree of political subordination of Venezuela to Cuba or from Cuba to Venezuela. " Cuba also said that "it does not intervene in the internal affairs of Venezuela, as Venezuela does not intervene in those of Cuba," despite the strong political and ideological alliance that exists between the island and the government of socialist Nicolás Maduro. It is "totally false that Cuba is participating in operations of the FANB (Bolivarian National Armed Forces) or the security services, it is a slander of the United States government with aggressive political ends," Havana added.

INTERIM PRESIDENT JUAN GUAIDO REQUESTS INTERNATIONAL HELP TO BLOCK VENEZUELAN OIL SHIPMENTS TO CUBA

 
     CARACAS, VENEZUELA    --
    Venezuelan interim President Juan Guaido appealed to other countries on Monday to help stop Nicolas Maduro’s regime from continuing to ship crude oil to Cuba. “We have decreed no more shipment of petroleum to Cuba,” Guaido said while presiding over a session of the opposition-controlled National Assembly. “Moreover, not only do we decree it, but we request international cooperation to make this measure effective.” Cuba, Venezuela’s closest ally for the last two decades, receives roughly 100,000 barrels per day of crude from the oil rich nation on generous terms under the PetroCaribe program, which offers similar benefits to other countries in Central America and the Caribbean.

      In the case of Cuba, payment for the oil mainly takes the form of services and the provision of doctors to staff a program extending health care to under-served areas of Venezuela. But Guaido said on Monday that the crude oil sent to Cuba is needed in Venezuela to address a nationwide power blackout now in its fourth day. The assembly voted in favor of Guaido’s proposal to declare a state of emergency in response to the protracted outage. The leftist Maduro regime blames the blackout on a cyberattack targeting the control systems at the Guri Dam, a massive hydroelectric complex in the southern state of Bolivia that supplies nearly 70 percent of Venezuela’s electricity. It is not clear that holding back crude oil exports would have any impact on the domestic energy situation.

      The New York Times reported recently that US economic sanctions against the Maduro administration “have affected Venezuela’s ability to import and produce the fuel required by the thermal power plants that could have backed up the Guri plant once it failed.” The United States, which has been at odds with Venezuela since Maduro’s late predecessor and mentor, Hugo Chavez, took office in 1999, immediately recognized Guaido when he swore in as acting president on Jan. 23. Guaido has since been recognized by more than 50 other countries, including much of Latin America and the major European powers – with the exception of Italy. Washington and its allies agree with the Venezuelan opposition that Maduro’s re-election last May lacked legitimacy. China, Russia and India are among a group of nations that continue to recognize Maduro.

THE UNITED STATES WILL WITHDRAW THIS WEEK ALL THE STAFF OF ITS EMBASSY IN CARACAS

     WASHINGTON, D.C.   --  The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, informed that his country will withdraw this week all the remaining diplomatic personnel in his legation in Venezuela. "This decision reflects the deterioration of the situation in Venezuela, as well as the conclusion that the presence of diplomatic personnel of the United States in the Embassy has become a restriction to US policy," the US official reported on the social network. Twitte On January 23, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced the breakdown of diplomatic relations with the United States, which recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president, and ordered the departure of all US diplomats from the country. Washington challenged the legitimacy of the Venezuelan president by refusing to obey, said AFP.

    On January 24, the State Department ordered the return of all its "non-essential" government workers destined to Venezuela and the relatives of the diplomats. He also advised American citizens to leave the oil country. The Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo, announced the total withdrawal of diplomatic personnel at the US Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, as the deterioration of the crisis in the country intensifies. Pompeo said the United States has concluded that the presence of United States diplomatic personnel at the Embassy has become a restriction on US policy. "The United States will withdraw all remaining staff from @usembassyve this week.

    This decision reflects the deterioration of the #Venezuela situation, as well as the conclusion that the presence of US diplomatic personnel at the Embassy has become a restriction on US policy, "Pompeo wrote on his Twitter account. Like the January 24 decision to remove all family members and minimize embassy personnel, this decision is due to the deterioration of the situation in Venezuela, as well as the conclusion that the presence of the diplomatic staff of United States in the embassy has become a restriction for US policy, "said the State Department. He did not say what day the staff of the embassy in Caracas would retire. Venezuela has been mired for months in a serious political upheaval over the impeachment of its presidential elections.

MARCH 12,  2019

THE NATIONAL  ASSEMBLY APPROVED DECREE PROPOSED BY JUAN GUAIDO ON STATE OF ALARM BEFORE A GREAT BLACKOUT OF FIVE DAYS IN VENEZUELA

     CARAcas, venezuela  --     Before the electric collapse and paralysis of activities throughout the national territory, the National Assembly (AN) unanimously approved during an emergency session on Monday the decree of state of alarm in Venezuela proposed by the parliamentary president and president in charge of the country, Juan Guaidó "Debate over the electric collapse and the paralysis of Venezuela because of the negligence and irresponsibility of the Maduro regime that aggravates the humanitarian crisis", is the only point on the agenda for this session. The session began after 1:30 pm. The president in charge initiated the debate saying that "it is natural to seek solutions to this situation by adhering to the Constitution." He sent a message to the military: "Are you going to continue hiding the usurper? There is no normality in Venezuela and that is why this decree, when you can not even communicate with your relatives. 100 years of retreat in just four days. "

     In addition, it orders the military and security forces to "refrain from preventing or hindering" the protests over the blackouts. During the debate, Guaidó called for demonstrations throughout the country on Tuesday. Until now the scope and possibilities of application of the "national alarm" is unknown. Since Thursday, Venezuela is paralyzed by a blackout in Caracas and 22 of the 23 states. "These people are ridiculed that only in hours they change the excuse of something that all Venezuelans know: they stole the money for preventive maintenance, they owe it to everyone and today we are in this situation that Venezuela is living," reiterated Guaidó. He also decreed that no more oil will be sent to Cuba. "You know that we are not going to allow indiscriminate swindling and we ask for international collaboration to make the measure effective. No more kidnapping of our resources. We will see if the leaders of Cuba pay with their money. We will see the size of the love that they had ... We will see that it is love or interest of Cuba, "he said.

     "In 2009 the electric emergency was decreed, in 2013 the electric points of the country were militarized and now, in 2019, the regime that has kidnapped parts of the public coffers, in just four days, they believe the version they are giving . At this time they have not given the official version of the situation in the country, while we have already communicated with the rest of the world, "he said. "Today who blocks the progress of the country is the one who usurps power in Miraflores. The regime tries to confuse Venezuelans and abroad that it is the responsibility of others. He called for a march through Venezuela starting at 3 o'clock in the afternoon of this Tuesday # 12Mar. "Tomorrow, Tuesday from 3 in the afternoon, we will look for our neighbors and go out to the nearest avenue to express our disapproval of the usurpation," said Guaidó. "The usurpation has said that this electricity problem is due to a cyber attack. But the explanation is another and much simpler: the version is different, it is not that the powder of pa-ram-pam-pam fell. Mr. psychiatrist, there was no extra-sensory power, it was not the empire, when a disaster like this occurs you have to calibrate the frequency and those who have such expertise are no longer ", said the deputy when making use of his right to speak. "These are the most cursed hours in Venezuela, the usurper does not care, nor his military, because they are very afraid to leave power, because they know what will happen to them when they pay their crimes. When Chávez ran out of everything, we fell into what we fell into. I finish with PDVSA and finished with everything he played, "he said.

NERVES FRAY, TEMPERS FLARE AS THE HISTORIC VENEZUELAN  BLACKOUT HITS 5TH DAY

 
     CARACAS, VENEZUELA    --
    The country's worst-ever power outage comes as Maduro faces a hyperinflationary economic collapse and an unprecedented political crisis. Opposition leader Juan Guaido in January invoked the constitution to assume the presidency after declaring Maduro's 2018 re-election a fraud. Angry residents of the Caracas neighborhood of Chacao on Sunday set up barricades along a main avenue and on side streets to protest the continued outage. "The food we had in our refrigerators has spoiled, businesses are closed, there's no communication, not even by cell phone," Ana Cerrato, 49, a merchant, standing in front of a pile of razor wire and debris. "No country can bear 50 hours without electricity. We need help! We are in a humanitarian crisis!" Lines extended for blocks at fuel stations as drivers queued up for gasoline and busses waited fill up with diesel. Families stood under the sun to buy potable water, which is unavailable for most residents whose homes do not have power.

     State oil company PDVSA said on Sunday that fuel supplies were guaranteed. But only around 100 of the country's 1,800 service stations were in operation due to the blackout, according to gas station industry sources. Merchants unable to maintain refrigerators working began giving away cheese, vegetables and meat to clients. Other shops had supplies stolen. A small supermarket in a working class area of western Caracas was looted on Saturday night after protesters barricaded an avenue and clashed with police, according to neighbors and the shop's owner Manuel Caldeira. "They took food, they broke the display windows, they stole scales and point of sale terminals," said Caldeira, 58, standing on the shop floor littered with glass. "We weren't here (when it happened), we got here and found all of this destroyed." The air in the shop still reeked of tear gas from the night before, when police had fired canisters to disperse the looters. Two employees were struggling to open protective steel doors that were damaged by the thieves.

     Guaido invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency in January, arguing that Maduro's 2018 re-election was fraudulent. He has been recognized as Venezuela's legitimate leader by the United States and most Western countries, but Maduro retains control of the armed forces and state functions. Elliott Abrams, the Trump administration's envoy for Venezuela, said on Sunday that Maduro is not open to negotiations and seems intent on staying put. Speaking on U.S. broadcast network ABC's "This Week," U.S. National Security AdvisOr John Bolton said Venezuela's military was having conversations with opposition legislators "about what might come, how they might move to support the opposition." At hospitals, the lack of power combined with the absence or poor performance of backup generators led to the death of 17 patients across the country, non-governmental organization Doctors for Health said on Saturday. Power returned briefly to parts of Caracas and other cities on Friday, but went out again around midday on Saturday.

JOHN BOLTON AFFIRMS IT DEPENDS ON THE VENEZUELANS THAT JUAN GUAIDO PREVAILS

     WASHINGTON, D.C.   --  National Security Adviser to President Donald Trump, John Bolton, spoke on Sunday about the power struggle in Venezuela between the ruling Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who is recognized by a large part of the international community as Acting President. This is what voanoticias.com reviews The South American nation is immersed in a severe political, economic and social crisis that has worsened in recent days due to a blackout that took people to the streets in the midst of chaos due to the lack of basic services. "I do not wish him any harm.

     I had a few weeks ago that I was hoping that his future would consist of living on a beautiful beach somewhere away from Venezuela. However, it's not just Maduro, it's the whole regime. It is a group of kleptocrats who have plundered Venezuela of its oil wealth, they have impoverished the people, they can see it now with the collapse of their national electricity grid. " John Bolton said on ABC's "This Week" that "the impulse is on Guaidó's side," but suggested that it will be the Venezuelans who make sure that the opposition leader prevails. The National Security Adviser also said: "There are innumerable conversations between members of the National Assembly and members of the Armed Forces in Venezuela."

     The economic collapse of Venezuela has caused hunger, deprivation and massive migration. In recent days the suffering has increased, since the generalized blackouts paralyzed a nation that was already on its knees. In general, the most serious humanitarian disaster in the Western Hemisphere has forced more than three million Venezuelans to flee their oil-rich country. Guaidó said on Sunday he would ask the National Assembly to declare a state of emergency when the Assembly meets on Monday to discuss the nation's blackout. Maduro, who succeeded Hugo Chávez as president in 2013 after his death, continually blames Washington for Venezuela's problems.

MARCH 11,  2019

INTERIM PRESIDENT JUAN GUAIDO CALLS FOR THE MOBILIZATION OF ALL VENEZUELANS TO CARACAS TO DEMAND DICTATOR MADURO DEPARTURE

     CARAcas, venezuela  --    The interim president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, convened on Saturday a large mobilization to move millions of Venezuelans to Caracas, from all the states of the country, to demand the end of the Nicolás Maduro regime. Guaidó did not elaborate on the mobilization, noting only that the date will be announced at the time, but explained that it will involve the transfer of deputies to various cities in the country to prepare the massive movement of Venezuelans to the capital. The interim president, whose legitimacy is recognized by more than 50 countries, including the United States, did not rule out that the mobilization reaches the presidential palace of Miraflores.

      "We have to realize the seizure and the conquest of power (...) We have to go out and then to come back all together to Caracas," said Guaidó in front of a massive rally in Caracas in the context of a generalized interruption of electricity service, which has left in the dark millions of Venezuelans for more than 30 hours. Interim of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, sent a video message through his social networks to ask the Venezuelans to go out again on March 9, 2019 to protest against Nicolás Maduro regime. "The goal is to bring all of Venezuela to Caracas, the route is from the states, throughout Venezuela, to Caracas," he repeat. The speech of Guaidó, delivered through a megaphone, was heard by thousands of Venezuelans assembled on Victoria Avenue in Caracas despite the initial efforts of the Bolivarian National Police to block the march.

      Venezuelans, overwhelmed by an economic collapse that has left the vast majority of them eating less than three times a day, also faced this week a long interruption in electricity service, attributed by the regime to sabotage operations orchestrated from the United States. Part of the service was restored on Friday afternoon, but new interruptions occurred when the Venezuelans were walking to the streets on March 9, 2019 to protest against the Nicolás Maduro dictatorshhip. Despite the regime's theory that the country is the victim of an "electric war" waged by its adversaries, most experts in the country have been warning of the serious crisis facing the sector for years because the money allocated to investment infrastructure have disappeared under the effects of government corruption.

elliott abrams: despite pressure, venezuela's maduro seems set on staying put

 
     washington, d.c..   --
    There are no signs that Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro is open to negotiations to end the political impasse with opposition leader Juan Guaido, Washington’s envoy for Venezuela Elliot t Abrams said. Abrams, who served in the administrations of both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, said any negotiated solution would need to be reached among Venezuelans, and that the United States could help by lifting or easing U.S. sanctions and travel restrictions once Maduro agreed to go. Abrams, however, played down any possibility that the Venezuelan president was ready to talk about his exit. “From everything we have seen, Maduro’s tactic is to stay put,” Abrams said in an interview on Friday. Some 56 countries have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s interim head of state, but Maduro retains the backing of Russia and China as well as control of state institutions including the military.

     Abrams has met with Russian representatives to the United States about Moscow’s support for Maduro. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier this month, after a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, that Moscow was ready to take part in bilateral talks on Venezuela. “The Russians are not happy with Maduro for all the obvious reasons,” Abrams said. “In a couple of conversations I have been told they have given advice to Maduro and he doesn’t take it.” “They continue to support him and there is no indication that I have seen that they are telling him it’s time to bring this to an end,” he said, adding: “There could come a point where the Russians reach a conclusion that the regime is really unsalvageable.” Washington has called on foreign banks to ensure that Maduro and Venezuelan government officials are not hiding financial assets abroad. John Bolton, the U.S. national security advisor, last week threatened to impose sanctions against any financial institution that help Maduro.

     “We are not going to get any cooperation on this from Russian banks, but I think every step we take makes it harder for the regime to steal money,” Abrams said. Moscow is owed $3.1 billion in sovereign debt by Venezuela and acted as a lender of last resort for Caracas, with the government and Russian oil giant, Rosneft, handing Venezuela at least $17 billion in loans and credit lines since 2006. Abrams said he had not yet spoken to Chinese government officials about Beijing’s support for Maduro, blaming scheduling issues. “We will do it,” Abrams said. Referring to Cuba, the U.S. envoy described it as “a parasite that has been feeding off Venezuela for decades” by taking its oil while offering intelligence and other protections for Maduro.“There are thousands of Cuban officers, and literally, physically, around him. In some ways they are the key advisors to Maduro,” Abrams said of Havana’s role. Communist-run Cuba has been a key backer of the Venezuelan socialist government since the Bolivarian Revolution that began under former leader Hugo Chavez in 1998. Cuba has denied it has security forces in Venezuela and said statements like Abrams’ were part of a campaign of lies aimed at paving the way for U.S. military intervention in the South American country.

JOHN BOLTON: VENEZUELAN MILITARY IS IN CONTACT WITH THE OPPOSITION

     WASHINGTON, D.C.   --  President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday that Venezuelan military had talked with members of the National Assembly about how to act to support the opposition. John Bolton did not predict the dismissal of the ruling Nicolás Maduro, but estimated that the momentum was favorable to interim president Juan Guaidó, recognized by more than 50 countries. "There are innumerable ongoing talks between members of the National Assembly and members of the military in Venezuela about what could happen and how they could move to support the opposition," Bolton said in an interview on ABC's This Week program. His statements come a day after thousands of people took to the streets in Caracas to demonstrate against the Venezuelan government, amid a massive blackout that has left the capital and much of the country without electricity for three days

      There were also marches by Maduro followers in support of the president, who blamed the "imperialism" of the country's problems and said the blackout was the product of a "cyber attack." Bolton considered significant that the government of Maduro has refrained from stopping Guaidó: "The reason is that Maduro is afraid that if he gives that order, it will not be executed.” When asked if he was sure that Maduro is about to leave, Bolton replied: "I'm not sure of anything, but I think the momentum is in favor of Guaidó." "I do not want any harm" to Maduro, he added. "I hope his future consists of a life on a peaceful beach away from Venezuela."

     Comments made by Vicente Medina, a Patilla.com reader: “Mr. Bolton depicts an scenario that is very likely happening m0w between some officers of the high and medium military command and the leaders of the opposition. That is why interim president Juan Guaidó has not being imprisoned and tortured to force him to desist from his libertarian crusade. But I do not share Mr. Bolton's suggestion that he does not wish the tyrant ill. The question is not of desire but of justice. Like any citizen, the tyrant must face domestic and international justice for the crimes he has committed against our people. The tyrant will not accept a consensus and peaceful exit for the welfare of all. Let us remember that the real protagonist of our libertarian struggle is not Mr. Juan Guaidó but the great majority of our people people who, tired of the tyrant and his henchmen, have decided to reestablish a state of law that represents us all."

MARCH 9,  2019

THE UNITED STATES filed CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA TARECK EL AISSAMI

     NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK. --    The Federal Court of Manhattan filed Friday charges against former Venezuelan vice president Tareck El Aissami and his alleged front man, businessman Samark Lopez, for violating sanctions imposed against them by hiring private flights through US companies. In connection with the case, the Federal Prosecutor of New York announced that it was bringing charges against Victor Mones Coro, Alejandro Miguel Leon Maal, Michols Orsini Quintero and Alejandro Antonio Quintavalle Yrady. Mones Coro and Orsini Quintero were arrested Friday morning in Florida, appearing in court shortly thereafter in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, respectively. The indictment alleges that "the people arrested today, seeking to fill their pockets with dirty money, helped El Aissami and López Bello dodge the sanctions and violate the Kinpin law, designation of the OFAC that punishes those who represent a threat to national security, foreign policy and the economy of the United States, "said the statement from the Office of the Prosecutor.

     "The Aissami and Lopez Bello allegedly employed private jets to organize meetings around the world, including Turkey and Russia. It is necessary to impose sanctions against foreigners who seek to concentrate power and control in violation of the laws, "he added. The Aissami, López Bello, Mones Coro and León Maal individually face five counts of conspiring to employ American Charter Services LLC and SVMI Solution LLC to perform operations prohibited by the Kingpin Act and related regulations, from using American Charter Services LLC to do operations prohibited by the same law and then to evade the sanctions imposed. Also, those involved are accused of using SVMI Solution LLC to evade sanctions.

     "If found guilty, each of the five charges carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, for a total of 150 years in prison for all the charges they face," the police said. The Aissami, who is investigated in the United States for alleged links to drug trafficking and extremist movements in the Middle East, was included in February 2017 in the blacklist of the OFAC, unit of the Department of the Treasury, in a measure that leads to the freezing of any assets it could have in the United States. That measure also involved Lopez Bello, who is accused of being the main figurehead of El Aissami, and about a dozen companies linked to the Venezuelan businessman. When announcing his appointment on the blacklist in 2017, the Treasury Department said that El Aissami has facilitated drug shipments from Venezuela and that it exercised control over planes taking off from a Venezuelan air base, in addition to controlling drug routes that He left through Venezuelan ports.

VENEZUELA IN CHAOS AFTER MASSIVE POWER OUTAGE, DICTATOR MADURO BLAMES FLORIDA SENATOR MARCO RUBIO

 
     CARACAS, VENEZUELA.   --
    Venezuela plunged into darkness Thursday evening following one of the largest power outages in years, spreading chaos in an already disrupted country facing political turmoil. The blackout began as most commuters were leaving work for home, hitting 22 out of 23 Venezuelan states, including the capital Caracas that until now managed to avoid the consequences of collapsing infrastructure and frequent outages. Thousands of commuters had to scramble to find a way back home as subway service stopped operating, while roads came to a standstill due to confusion over blackened stoplights. The blackout forced hospital nurses to monitor patients, including premature babies in incubators, while holding candles.

     A power outage left much of Venezuela in the dark early Thursday evening in what appeared to be one of the largest blackouts yet in a country where power failures have become increasingly common. Venezuela's disputed president Nicolas Maduro, meanwhile, blamed the blackout as an “electrical war” perpetrated by the United States without providing any proof, the latest sign of a dictator who’s losing the grip over the country. Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez echoed Maduro and said right-wing extremists are causing mayhem in the country at the behest of Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a claim mocked by the senator on Twitter. “My apologies to people of Venezuela,” he wrote in a tweet. “I must have pressed the wrong thing on the ‘electronic attack’ app I downloaded from Apple. My bad.”

     Rodriguez urged people to be patient and promised to restore power within the hours of the blackout. Yet the blackout continued into early Friday morning, with Venezuelans opening their windows and banging pots and pans in the dark as a protest against the government, while some also cursed at Maduro. The outage comes amid political turmoil in Venezuela, with Maduro facing a challenge for legitimacy from opposition leader Juan Guaido, the head of congress who was recognized as the legitimate leader of the country by the U.S. and about 50 countries around the world. “How do you tell a mom who needs to cook, an ill person who depends on a machine, a worker who should be laboring that we are in a powerful country without electricity?” he wrote, using the hashtag #SinLuz, meaning without light. “Venezuela is clear that the light will return with the end of usurpation.”

THE HARSH RESPONSE OF SECRETARY MIKE POMPEO TO DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO FOR HIS  ACCUSATION OF "IMPERIAL ELECTRIC WAR"

     WASHINGTON, D.C.   --  The Secretary of State MIKE POMPEO responded categorically to the accusations of DICTATOR Nicolás Maduro and VICE PRESIDENT Delcy Rodríguez, who blame the opposition and the United States for the blackout that affects almost the entire country "The electric war announced and directed by US imperialism against our people It will be defeated, nothing and no one will be able to defeat the people of Bolívar and Chávez ... Maximum unity of the patriots! "Nicolás Maduro tweeted Thursday night. Pompeo's response was immediate: "There is no food, there are no medicines, now there is no energy, then there will be no Maduro," he said from his account of the same social network that the dictator used.

     Hours earlier, a blackout had left most of the country without light. Without explanations for the evident collapse of the energy system after years of neglect, the regime did what it does best: denounce an international conspiracy. On Friday morning, given the impossibility of solving the problem, Vice President Delcy Rodríguez announced the suspension of classes and the working day. And it reinforced the conspiracy theory. "Unfortunately we suffer the disturbance of a technological attack.

     This act of electric sabotage committed by the opposition, by the Venezuelan extremist right, following instructions and in complicity with imperial powers, has motivated the Head of State, President Nicolás Maduro, to have decided today to suspend the classes and the working days, both public and private. With the aim of facilitating the work and the work of recovery of the electric service in the affected states, "he said in an audio that was broadcast by the regime's media. Given the magnitude of the accusations, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo decided respond with forcefulness. "The power cut and the devastation that hurts ordinary Venezuelans are not due to the United States. It is not for Colombia. It's not Ecuador or Brazil, Europe or anywhere else, "he wrote in his Twitter account.

MARCH 8,  2019

us tightens the noose around cuba's "neck" 

     WASHIINGTON, D.C. --   The Cuban economy took another hit this week as the United States opened the door to hundreds, if not thousands, of lawsuits against the island’s government and military that appropriated confiscated properties of who are now US citizens. The bad news for Cuba comes on the heels of a near collapse of the government’s greatest political and economic ally, the Maduro government in Venezuela. The Trump administration decision tightens the noose of the US embargo first applied to Cuba in 1960 and expanded in 1962. Then in 1996 a new law was passed to further strengthen the sanctions, but it has never been fully applied. The opportunity to sue over confiscated properties is something many elderly Cuban-Americans and their descendants have been demanding for decades.

      European and Canadian companies with investments in Cuba got a 45-day reprieve before their legal vulnerability in the US is decided in Washington. “Title III of the 1996 Helms-Burton (Libertad) Act would let Americans — including Cubans who have since become U.S. citizens — sue companies that “traffic” in property confiscated by Cuba after the country’s 1959 revolution,” explains NPR. “For now, the Trump administration is allowing lawsuits only against Cuban companies that are already blacklisted in the U.S. because they are tied to Cuba’s military and intelligence services. Foreign companies, however, are on edge since Pompeo’s waiver runs only through April 17,” NPR noted. “Today I announce an exception to the 30-day suspension of #TitleIII of the Libertad Act,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Twitter, adding, “We must hold #Cuba accountable and make whole U.S. claimants for assets seized by the Cuban government. Doing business with Cuba is not worth trafficking in confiscated property.”

     Title III has not taken effect before as it has been suspended by presidential decree every six months since it became law in 1996. Its lifting could bring on a huge amount of lawsuits and billions of dollars in court judgements. It could make funds of any future exports from Cuba to the US vulnerable to being seized to pay the court judgements. If the law is fully applied as it could be after April 17, foreign companies or banks operating in buildings previously owned privately could be at risk as the suits would attempt to go after their assets in the United States. Attorney Robert Muse gave to NPR some examples of vulnerability that the foreign companies could face. “If your grandfather had a sugar plantation expropriated in 1960 and someone is buying that sugar, dealing in the sugar, profiting from it, they can be deemed to be a trafficker, but also the government agency that oversees that sugar plantation today, say the Ministry of Agriculture, they can be sued,”

THE UNITED STATES DENIES THAT IT IS NEGOTIATING WITH CUBA THE DEPARTURE OF DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO

 
     Washington, d.c.   --
 Elliott Abrams, said on Thursday that his government is not negotiating with Cuba to facilitate the departure of Venezuelan DICTATOR  Nicolás Maduro. Abrams offered that information during a hearing titled "Relations between the US and Venezuela and the path to a democratic transition" in the Senate Foreign Committee. Sen. Bob Menéndez, a Democrat with criticism of Maduro and the Cuban government, asked Abrams if the US executive had spoken with Havana about an exit for Maduro, to which the diplomat replied: "No, we are not discussing with Cuba the future of Maduro ", reported EFE.

     In recent weeks, speculation has multiplied over the possibility that Maduro may be seeking refuge in case he is forced to leave power in the face of pressure from the international community, which backs opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela. In an interview with EFE in February, Julio Borges, ambassador to the Lima Group of Guaidó, assured that Maduro was "knocking on the door" of Arab countries and Eastern Europe for his retirement. The US was the first country to recognize Guaidó as president and, since then, has taken different actions to pressure Maduro: from visa restrictions to Venezuelan officials to sanctions against the company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), one of the main sources of currency for Caracas.

     Before the Senate, Abrams announced that there will be more sanctions against banks that are helping Maduro to "steal" the country's resources, such as gold or oil. The senators asked Abrams about whether plans to intervene militarily in Venezuela have been discussed within the government, to which the diplomat responded by explaining that "contingency plans" are always analyzed to be prepared if the circumstances worsen. Specifically, Abrams indicated that there are always plans to protect embassies in the world and to safeguard the safety of US citizens, but did not offer more details. The president, Donald Trump, has warned several times that "all options are on the table."

JUAN GUAIDO RECEIVES GERMAN AMBASSADOR EXPELLED FROM VENEZUELA BY DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO

     CARACAS, VENEZUELA    --  A day after Nicolás Maduro declared Daniel Martin Kriener, ambassador of Germany, persona non grata, the diplomat had a meeting with the president in charge of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, at the headquarters of the Federal Legislative Palace. Guaidó reported the meeting on his Twitter account on Thursday and said he told the ambassador "our rejection of the threats of the usurping regime." He explained that Kriener was called to consultation in Berlin, so the German embassy in Caracas, is under the authority of the Chargé d'affaires, Daniela Vogl. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday that the decision of Nicolás Maduro's disputed government to expel the German ambassador is unacceptable and will not change the position of his country to support the president in charge, Juan Guaidó.

      Maduro's chancellor, Jorge Arreaza, declared the German ambassador Daniel Kriener persona non grata on Wednesday, and offered 48 hours to leave the country for what he called "recurrent acts of interference." Speaking on Thursday, Maas said the German government will continue to back Guaidó's plan to organize free elections in Venezuela. Maas explained the German position with his Croat counterpart, Marija Pejčinović Burić. "Regarding the decision of the Venezuelan government (in dispute), or rather the regime of (Nicolás) Maduro in Caracas, to expel ambassador Kriener as persona non grata, is for us a totally incomprehensible and unacceptable decision," he said. "We will discuss the situation with him again, this will not mean in any way that we reconsider our support for Juan Guaidó as interim president with the work of organizing free, fair and democratic elections This support is irrevocable and will continue to be so," he emphasized.

     After the announcement of his expulsion, Kriener said Maduro "lacks the necessary democratic legitimacy." Kriener was one of several Western ambassadors who were present to watch the return of Guaidó to Caracas last week, after a tour of countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Ecuador. His return occurred amid fears that he was arrested because he weighs an order that prohibits him from going abroad. Guaidó entered the Venezuelan territory on a commercial flight without difficulties. "I think that the presence of several ambassadors helped to avoid an arrest (of Guaidó). A day later I called him (German ambassador Kriener) to thank him personally," Maas said. He also said that the goal of Germany "is to contribute to a peaceful solution, that the humanitarian aid needed by the people of Venezuela finally reach them and that there is a democratic process with an election in which the citizens of Venezuela can decide for themselves. "

MARCH 7,  2019

THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY DESCRIBES THE MASSACRE OF PEMON INDIANS AS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITYY

      CARACAS, VENEZUELA --   The National Assembly debated on Wednesday the massacre that took place in the Pemón community, product of the repression during the day of entry of humanitarian aid on February 23; the deputies who spoke agreed that it was a crime against humanity that must be punished. The debate was initiated by Deputy Gladys Guaipo, president of the Permanent Commission of Indigenous Peoples, who affirmed that "we will not forget the government's attacks to prevent the entry of humanitarian aid. We were attacked by armed groups and tanks.

     The regime with collectives took possession of the only ambulance there and therefore the wounded could not be taken to Boa Vista. "She added that what happened in the Kumarakapai indigenous community, Gran Sabana municipality, south of Bolívar state, was a massacre committed by members of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN). She added that the victims received several bullet wounds. She denounced that "the regime of Nicolás Maduro, brought out the prisoners of the El Dorado prison with National Guard uniforms to repress the inhabitants. She added that among the deceased were Zoraida Martínez, Jorge González and José Hernández, among others, and in this regard she accused the "usurping regime, as violator of human rights against the Pemón people".

     She proposed the formation of a Mixed Commission integrated by Interior Policy, Cults and Penitentiary Regime, in addition to the Indigenous Commission to investigate the case. Deputy Edwin Luzardo, agreed that what happened to the Pemón ethnic group is a crime against humanity, and that they must go to international bodies for justice. He added that the regime does not forgive the Pemon Indians’ decision to give support to the humanitarian aid that was going to enter the country; the support they gave to Juan Guaidó, and the surveillance role they have maintained in the Gran Sabana so that the regime does not continue looting the gold. The deputy Américo Di Gracia said that the Maduro regime awarded medals to those who murdered the Pemón Indians, including the Commander ZODI Bolívar, Alberto Bermúdez.

U.S. REPORTER AND HIS VENEZUELAN ASSISTANT ARRESTED IN VENEZUELA BY DICTATOR MADURO'S SECRET SERVICE

 
     CARACAS, VENEZUELA   --
 A U.S. free-lance reporter and his Venezuelan assistant were arrested Wednesday by military counterintelligence agents, according to the nation’s union for journalists. Officers raided the homes of Cody Weddle and Carlos Camacho, arresting them and seizing their equipment, said Marco Ruiz, the general secretary of the National Union of Press Workers. The union and Espacio Publico, a Venezuelan organization that works for a free press, haven’t been able to communicate with the men. By late Wednesday afternoon, the union known by the Spanish abbreviation SNTP said that representatives had spoken with authorities and learned that Weddle and Camacho had been taken to military-police headquarters in east Caracas. “Both are being interrogated,” the STNP tweeted. “They did not provide further details.”

     Hours later, relatives of Camacho confirmed that he had been released, the press union said in a Twitter post. The union earlier had said that both men remained “incommunicado.” Dictator Nicolas Maduro’s autocratic regime has arrested 36 journalists and press workers this year, including Weddle and Camacho, according to STNP. Last week, Maduro ordered Univision journalist Jorge Ramos held for hours in the presidential palace after he angered him with questions about hunger in the country. The U.S., which says Maduro’s presidency is illegitimate, said Wednesday he must free the reporters.

     “The State Department is aware of and deeply concerned with reports that another U.S. journalist has been detained in #Venezuela by #Maduro, who prefers to stifle the truth rather than face it. Being a journalist is not a crime. We demand the journalist’s immediate release, unharmed,” Kimberly Breier, assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs, said in a posting on Twitter. Carlos Correa, director of Espacio Publico, said neighbors confirmed that the detention order came from a military court. The union said it hasn’t been able to discover what crimes the men are accused of. Weddle is a graduate of Virginia Tech University and his work has appeared in outlets such as the Miami Herald, WPLG-TV in Miami, the BBC and Al Jazeera English, according to his LinkedIn profile. Senator Rick Scott, a Florida Republican, wrote on Twitter that Weddle’s arrest was unacceptable: “He must be released immediately and the U.S. will not stand for this kind of intimidation!."

U.S. JOURNALIST DETAINED IN VENEZUELA AMID CONTINUED UNREST IS RELEASED

     CARACAS, VENEZUELA    --  Cody Weddle, a Venezuela-based freelance reporter, was released late Wednesday after spending 12 hours in custody — underscoring the ongoing political crisis in the South American nation. Weddle, a 28-year-old Virginia native, was detained early Wednesday after Venezuela’s Military Counterintelligence, DGCIM, raided his home in Caracas. His assistant, Carlos Camacho, was also detained and their equipment seized, according to the National Union of Journalists, SNTP. The news of Weddle’s arrest – at a time when U.S-Venezuela relations are at an all-time low – rattled Washington. Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott demanded Weddle’s release and the U.S. State Department accused Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro of preferring to “stifle the truth rather than face it. Being a journalist is not a crime.”

    Weddle has lived in Caracas since 2014 and has worked for South Florida’s WPLG Local 10, the Miami Herald, ABC, CBC and the Telegraph, among others. Recently, he had been covering the return to Caracas of interim President Juan Guaidó who is trying to unseat Nicolás Maduro. Maduro won reelection last year, although the results were widely condemned as neither free nor fair. While the Maduro administration didn’t confirm or acknowledge Weddle’s detention, Guaidó did weigh in. “We demand the release of U.S. journalist Cody Weddle, who was kidnapped by a regime that is usurping powers and tries, unsuccessfully, to hide what’s truly happening in our country,” he wrote on Twitter, shortly before news broke that Weddle had been freed.

     Foro Penal, a human rights group, said Weddle was being taken to the airport and would be deported. Espacio Publico, a Caracas-based media advocacy group, said it was highly irregular for Weddle to be detained by the military and not the police. Reporting in Venezuela has become a high-risk endeavor as the Maduro regime often views the press as part of a right-wing destabilization plot. Espacio Publico has records of at least 49 reporters being detained — most of them briefly — in January and February. Seven journalists have also been deported this year. Reacting to the news about Weddle, Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro said the pattern of “censorship and intimidation” in Venezuela must stop.

MARCH 6,  2019

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP ALLOWS FIRST LAWSUITS AGAINST CUBA FOR US PROPERTY SEIZED DURING CASTRO'S REVOLUTION

      WASHINGTON, D.C. . --    The Trump administration is taking a historic step against the Cuban military and intelligence services controlling that country and propping up Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro, the State Department announced Monday. For the first time, U.S. citizens will be able to sue some entities whose businesses are built on property seized from them in the aftermath of Fidel Castro's 1959 Communist revolution. Title III of the Libertad Act, also known as the Helms-Burton Act, authorized such lawsuits but has been suspended by successive presidents every six months since it passed in 1996. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday he was suspending the law for just 30 days this time and including an important exception: Lawsuits could proceed against blacklisted Cuban individuals and groups tied to the security services “directly responsible for the repression of the Cuban people,” a senior State Department official said. The official estimated about 200 entities could be subject to suits.

      “It’s clear that by this action we are ratcheting up pressure on the Cuban government,” the official told reporters Monday. “We’ll also continue to encourage international partners to hold Cuba accountable for propping up the Maduro regime in Venezuela and press them to stop harassing and detaining peaceful activists and independent journalists.” Pompeo signaled in January that he might move to enforce the law when he issued a short 45-day suspension. The exception to today's waiver applies only to blacklisted Cuban entities — not, the State official stressed, Western companies who partner with them. “It is not intended to affect European companies that are currently doing business in Cuba,” the official confirmed.

     Still, lawmakers who support the full enforcement of the Libertad Act applauded State's decision as a positive first move. “Allowing American citizens to sue for stolen property in Cuba and denying foreign nationals involved in trafficking stolen property entry into the United States is a huge step toward cutting off the money supply to the Castro Regime,” said Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla. Pompeo’s team emphasized that the Cuban security services targeted today are also helping Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro resist international pressure to step aside in favor of opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been recognized as interim president by dozens of Western countries, including the United States. Prominent lawmakers from Florida — which has a large Cuban-American population — applauded the decision as a way to pressure both Latin American adversaries.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP BLAMES CUBA FOR VENEZUELAN CRISIS 

  
 WASHINGTON, D.C.  --
 The Trump administration is receiving praise today from Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart after the administration’s decision to hold the Communist Cuban regime accountable for its crimes. In a statement, the Florida lawmakers commended the Trump administration for allowing lawsuits against over 200 companies that are operated by the Communist regime. This action also marks the first step in implementing the Helms-Burton Libertad Act, which aims to hold the Cuban regime accountable for its crimes and support for Maduro’s narcoterrorist dictatorship.

     In a statement, Senator Scott commented that “the United States is serious about its commitment to freedom and democracy in Cuba.” He explained that “allowing American citizens to sue for stolen property in Cuba and denying foreign nationals involved in trafficking stolen property entry into the United States is a huge step toward cutting off the money supply to the Castro Regime.” Senator Scott also urged President Trump “to continue with the planned implementation this month so we can help begin a new day of freedom and democracy for Cuba and its people.”

     Senator Rubio also praised President Trump, saying that the President “is sending a strong message that the United States will not sit idly by while the Cuban regime continues to support the Maduro’s crime family at the expense of the Venezuelan people.”In addition, Diaz-Balart noted that this is an “important step toward righting some of the wrongs perpetrated by a dictatorship that brutally oppresses its people and opposes U.S. interests at every opportunity.” He detailed that “justice for the victims of the Castro regime’s confiscations is long overdue,” and Diaz-Balart explained that he “will continue to work with the Administration, Senators Rubio and Scott, and my congressional colleagues to ensure the United States continues to pressure the Castro regime.”

VENEZUELAN INTERIM PRESIDENT JUAN GUAIDO PROPOSES A GENERAL STRIKE OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION WORKERS

     CARACAS, VENEZUELA    --  The president in charge of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, arrived at the auditorium of the Engineer's College for the meeting with public employees. "I dare to say that more than 90% of the public administration is against usurpation and they ask for free elections. We are going towards a staggered unemployment in the public administration, proposed by the workers themselves, "he said. "In the meeting with the different trade unions we assure you that the game will change. We are listening to our public workers and respecting their salary tables, "said the president in charge.

     "Today, unfortunately we have to depend on a subsidy to survive. The workers do not want anything given away, they have earned it and I want that to be clear. Hard times come, because this regime does not respect the union agreements,"said Guaidó. "While some wanted very long breaks, because they do not like to work, here are our workers, here is the president in charge facing the workers. We will respect and guarantee the labor rights of our workers, "said Guaido. What is the use of raising a salary by more than 6000% if it is not enough? Today the crisis in the health sector is aggravated by not allowing the entry of humanitarian aid. We will evaluate new actions for your income, "said Juan Guaidó. "Our public workers are being kidnapped by forcing them to put on a red flannel to march on the streets.

     First, to those who have been persecuted politically, all usurped authority is null and all dismissals are automatically without effect. But the persecution is not new and we are going to promote a guarantee law for all public employees (...) There will be offers, salary increases and there we will put this movement to the test, we cannot succumb and we know what happened with the health sector" explained the president. "We know that complex and hard times come when we saw a regime that denies the entry of humanitarian aid, which caused Zuleta to be in exile," informed the president in charge. Juan Guaidó summoned the workers "Let's continue on the path of the cessation of usurpation, transitional government and free elections. The interim president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, announces that the general strike will be staggered in the public administration "The moment is now, the time has come, our call to the public employees is to make effective that strike, that stop."

MARCH 5,  2019

JUAN GUAIDO RETURNS TO VENEZUELA, CALLS FOR MORE STREET PROTESTS

       Caracas,  venezuea . --    A defiant Juan Guaido returned home to Venezuela on Monday despite concerns the opposition leader might be detained and urged supporters at a rally to intensify their campaign to topple the government of President Nicolas Maduro. The 35-year-old leader of Venezuela's National Assembly showed off his passport before climbing onto scaffolding and pumping his fist during the demonstration in Caracas, delighting euphoric followers whose efforts to oust Maduro have fallen short in a nation gripped by a humanitarian crisis. There were few security forces nearby and no immediate comment from Maduro's government, which has tried to divert the public's attention to carnival festivities Monday and Tuesday.

While thousands of Venezuelans heeded Guaido's call for protests coinciding with his return, many wonder whether he can maintain momentum against a government that, while under extreme pressure itself, has relentlessly cracked down on opponents in the past, jailing or driving into exile top opposition leaders. "We know the risks that we face. That's never stopped us," Guaido said after arriving at Venezuela's main airport and going through immigration checks. He was greeted by top diplomats from the United States, Germany, Spain and other countries who possibly hoped to head off any move to detain Guaido by bearing witness to his return. "We hope there won't be any escalation and that parliamentary immunity is respected," said Spanish Ambassador Jesus Silva Fernandez.

The United States and some 50 other countries have recognized Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, arguing that Maduro's re-election last year was invalid because popular opposition candidates were barred from running. At the rally, Guaido called for massive protests on Saturday and said he would meet Tuesday with public employee unions controlled by the government of Maduro, who retains the support of military generals despite the desertion of hundreds of lower-ranking military personnel. "The regime must understand, the dictatorship must understand... that we're stronger than ever. We'll continue protesting, we'll continue mobilizing," said Guaido, who had ignored an official ban on foreign travel to leave Venezuela last month.

JUAN GUAIDO, THE YOUNG MAN WHO CHALLENGES CHAVISM IN VENEZUELA

  
 CARACAS, VENEZUELA   --
 With a broad smile and always impeccable suit, Juan Guaidó, recognized as president in charge of more than 50 countries, remains in open challenge to the socialist Nicolás Maduro, whom he calls "usurper" and whose exit from power presses with demonstrations and international support . An industrial engineer of 35 years, with a tall figure, Guaidó returned to Venezuela on Monday, where he waited and accompanied a group of European and Latin American ambassadors, as well as thousands of his supporters in concentrations throughout the country. He had left on February 22, mocking a ban on leaving the country, to coordinate from Colombia the delivery of tons of food and medical supplies to address the crisis in Venezuela.

And although the income of international aid was impossible due to the blockade of the borders that Maduro ordered, Guaidó returns with the support of the presidents of Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Ecuador, who received him with honors in a tour the latter week. On that tour, he exchanged with Venezuelan migrants and refugees who expressed their desire to return to Venezuela. With many he embraced and took selfies. "You are going to return," he promised. Due to the crisis in Venezuela, which suffers from hyperinflation and shortages of medicines and food, some 2.7 million Venezuelans (out of a population of 30 million) have left the country since 2015, according to UN figures.
Along with his divorced mother and four brothers, Guaidó survived in 1999 one of the greatest natural disasters suffered by Venezuela, a huge landslide on the coastal area of Vargas, where he is from, that buried houses and buildings and caused thousands of dead "I am a survivor, not a victim," he says, recalling the disaster that occurred when the new Venezuelan Constitution was approved in a referendum at the beginning of the presidency of Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013. Catholic, Guaidó has summoned his followers to mass and his wife, Fabiana Rosales, who always accompanies him, to pray the rosary. He likes to comment anecdotes and show photos of his daughter Miranda, almost two years old, whom he sometimes carries in his arms during public events.

RUSSIA SAYS IT WILL PREVENT US MILITARY INTERVENTION IN VENEZUELA...REALLY!

     MOSCOW, RUSSIA     --   President of the Russian Senate, Valentina Matviyenko met Sunday with Vice President of Venezuela, Delcy Rodríguez, and said that Moscow will do its utmost to prevent military intervention of the US in the Latin American country. "We are very concerned that the United States can carry out any provocation to spill blood and find an excuse and a reason to intervene in Venezuela, but we will do everything possible to prevent this from happening," said Matviyenko, as described by the Interfax agency. Matviyenko stressed that "it is especially cynical" the attitude of the US, "a country that is positioned in the world as a supporter of democracy."

     He described as "gross violation of international law and the UN statutes" the attempts to "overthrow the current president illegally" and "the appointment as head of the country of an opposition politician from abroad." "Everything adds to the threats of military intervention, Russia did everything possible and will continue to do so in the future to prevent such developments," he said. Matviyenko denounced that in the list of countries where the United States intends to try to change power through illegal means are "Cuba and Nicaragua". "The international community is obliged to curb these negative trends to prevent something like this from happening in the future," she said. In turn, she handed Rodriguez in Castilian the statement adopted this week by the Russian Senate in which it warns US that any intervention in Venezuela would be interpreted as an "act of aggression" and called on the international community to support dialogue in the Latin American country.

    The vice president of Venezuela met also on Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and with the president of the Duma or Russian Chamber of Deputies, Vyacheslav Volodin. Rodriguez said that Caracas is willing to exchange oil for cooperation with Russia in energy, weapons, technology and finance. "Russia has everything that Venezuela needs, while Venezuela can provide the oil that Russia needs," said the Venezuelan representative. After meeting with Lavrov, she announced the move to Moscow office of Petroleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa) actually located in Lisbon, Portugal, and unveiled the instructions of the president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, to acquire in that country foods and medicines that Venezuelans need .

MARCH 4,  2019

JOHN BOLTON: THE US SEEKS  A BROAD COALITION TO REPLACE DICTATOR MADURO iN VENEZUELA

   WASHINGTON, D.C. --     White House Security Adviser John Bolton said Sunday that the US seeks an international "broad coalition" to replace Nicolás Maduro, and "the entire corrupt regime." "I would like to see a coalition as broad as we can muster to replace Maduro, replace his corrupt regime. That's what we're trying to do, "Bolton said in a statement to the US television network CNN. Bolton made reference to his frenetic activity on Twitter, where he stated that he has published about 150 messages about Venezuela, mostly in Spanish, as part of the efforts to gather support for "a peaceful transition from Maduro to Juan Guaidó," to whom the USA and fifty countries have recognized as legitimate president of Venezuela.

      On January 23, opposition leader Guaidó, head of the Venezuelan National Assembly (AN, Parliament), was proclaimed interim president invoking articles of the Constitution. Both in the interview to CNN, and in another that also gave to Fox News channel today, Bolton criticized the influence of Cuba in Venezuela. "Part of the problem in Venezuela is the strong Cuban presence, there are 20,000 to 25,000 Cuban security officials according to public information, this is the kind of thing that seems unacceptable," Bolton told CNN, who minutes later said on Fox News that had to "get rid" of this influence of Cuba. He also pointed out to this second television channel that there are "under the table" conversations about the future of the Venezuelan Army.

     On the other hand, he warned Maduro that if he stops Guaidó on his return to Venezuela he will only accelerate the day of his own exit, because, he assured, "the opposition is united in an unprecedented way in the last twenty years". Guaidó plans to return to Venezuela after a tour of five Latin American nations, which have taken him to Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador, in search of political support. The opposition leader left the Venezuelan territory on February 22 despite a prohibition to leave the country dictated by the Justice, which is investigating its proclamation as interim president, which the Supreme Court does not endorse since it only recognizes Maduro as head of state. Bolton added that the current US administration "is not afraid to use the expression Monroe Doctrine," which, he recalled, has been the "goal" of American presidents in the past.

THE EUROPEAN UNION WARNS THAT "PLACING JUAM GUAIDO AT RISK WOULD INCREASE TENSION AND DESERVE CONDENATION

  
 BRUSSELS, BELGIUM  --
 The European Union (EU) warned on Saturday that any action that could endanger "freedom, security or personal integrity" of the president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, would increase the tension and deserve to be condemned. "The European Union underlines its conviction that the solution to the multidimensional crisis that affects Venezuela can only be political, democratic and peaceful," said the EU's High Representative for Foreign Policy, Federica Mogherini, in a statement on behalf of the twenty-eight. She stressed that "any measure that could jeopardize the freedom, security or personal integrity of Juan Guaidó would represent a great escalation of tensions and deserve the firm condemnation of the international community."

      Mogherini recalled that the members of the National Assembly "enjoy the immunity granted by the Constitution that must be fully respected." Thus, she stressed that "they should be able to exercise their parliamentary mandate without intimidation on them or on the members of their family." Italian policy insisted that the EU will continue to "closely" follow developments in Venezuela in cooperation with the members of the International Contact Group that it has promoted, in which European and Latin American countries participate, as well as with its regional and international partners.

     Guaidó arrives in Ecuador this Saturday to meet with his president, Lenin Moreno, after leaving Caracas at the end of last week to travel to Colombia, on the border with Venezuela. He has also visited Brazil and Argentina during his journey, although he has already announced that, "at the latest", he will be back in Caracas "despite threats" that he may be imprisoned for having violated the ban on leaving the country impose by the judge who is investigating him for his decision to proclaim himself "president in charge" of Venezuela on January 23.

INTERIM PRESIDENT JUAN GUAIDO SAYS CUBA IS TERRORIZING THE VENEZUELAN MILITARY SO THEY WILL NOT SUPPORT HIM

     BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA      --   The head of the Venezuelan Parliament, Juan Guaidó, said Friday in Buenos Aires that 80% of the armed forces of his country “are in favor of a change,” but he accused Cuba of terrorizing the military so they won’t show their support. “If there is an interference in Venezuela it is Cuba over Venezuela, where they manage a part of the intelligence and counterintelligence apparatus, especially dedicated to terrorizing, mainly, the military so that they do not speak openly,” Guaidó said at a press conference after meeting in the Argentine capital with President Mauricio Macri.

      Guaidó, who is recognized as interim president of Venezuela by some 50 governments, arrived in Argentina from Asunción, where he was received by the Paraguayan president, Mario Abdo Benítez. Guaidó was also in Brazil on Thursday with its president, Jair Bolsonaro, on Saturday he was in Ecuador and, according to some media, on Sunday he might visit Peru. “I dare to say that 80% of the armed forces are in favor of a change, and now 160 high-ranking military officers have been imprisoned since 2018,” the leader of parliament recalled.

      He added, “for the first time in many years” the political leadership is speaking “clearly and directly” to the armed forces. “Establishing trust between the political sectors takes time, imagine establishing trust with the military,” whom “they persecute and torture,” he said. Guaidó noted that his interim government has offered amnesty and guarantees to the military to support a transition and withdraw their trust from president Nicolás Maduro. “We are in that process, but we must continue to press, we must continue to look for methods of communication,” he added and reflected: “Imagine for one second a Maduro without arms.”

MARCH 2,  2019

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE AFFIRMS THAT VENEZUELA NEEDS WHAT THE US HAS: FREEDOM, NOT SOCIALISM

   WASHINGTON, D.C.     - The vice-president of the USA, Mike Pence, assured in a conference that Venezuela needs what his country has: "it needs freedom". " It was freedom, not socialism, that gave us a better quality of life, the cleanest environment on earth and better healthcare, " reiterated Pence, who subscribes to the statements of US President Donald Trump in Miami "Those who want socialism, take a look at Venezuela. They had one of the richest democracies in the Western Hemisphere but the socialist rules of (Nicolás) Maduro made them poor, "he said, before assuring that at least three million Venezuelans left their homes to flee the regime.

      In his opinion, what happens in Venezuela is not only a conflict between dictatorship and democracy, but rather between socialism and freedom. " Maduro is a dictator and he must leave," he reiterated. "If we choose between freedom and socialism, the American people will opt for freedom at all times," said Pence, referring to the general elections of 2020. "The moment the United States becomes a socialist country, the United States will cease to be the United States," Pence added before the patriotic audience, which responded with cheers.

      Socialism has been at the center of the debate throughout the CPAC this week, with many participants having charged against progressive figures like Senator Bernie Sanders, who will seek the Presidency in 2020, or the young lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents the 14th district of New York. "The truth is that we want to make poor people richer, and they want to make the rich poorer. We intend to make poverty less common, and they aspire to make poverty more comfortable, "argued Pence.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE REJECTS SUGGESTION OF A TRUMP-MADURO MEETING

  
 WASHINGTON, D.C.  --
 Vice President Mike Pence dismissed an idea floated by the Venezuelan foreign minister that President Donald Trump and Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro meet. “The only thing to discuss with Maduro at this point is the time and date for his departure. For democracy to return and for Venezuela to rebuild—Maduro must go #VenezuelaLibre” Pence tweeted Wednesday afternoon. The remark comes after Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela’s foreign minister, addressed the U.N. human rights council Tuesday and suggested Trump and Maduro sit down to seek common ground.

      Pence called on members of the 14-nation Lima Group, that includes most of Latin America as well as Canada, to freeze the assets of Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA, and transfer any Venezuelan assets in their countries under Maduro’s name to the Guaidó’s representatives. Arreaza has called the border fight between Venezuelan security forces and supporters of Guaido a failed coup and blamed the United States for denounced the US government for “organizing, financing and leading” the effort. Pence said the United States was also sending another $56 million to Venezuela’s neighbors to help with the flood of migrants fleeing into their countries. He also promised additional humanitarian aid for the people of Venezuela.

    U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green, who traveled with Pence to Colombia, told members of Congress Wednesday that approximately 195 metric tons of crucial relief supplies, including emergency medical kits, food aid, hygiene kits, and nutritional supplies are ready to be delivered. “USAID stands in solidarity with Interim President Guaidó and those in Venezuela who seek a government that represents their interests and is responsive to their needs,” Green said. “So long as Maduro and his cronies continue to crush the people of Venezuela, their economy, and their hope, we know this crisis will continue.

RUSSIA OFFERS WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT AND NOT MONEY TO MADURO IN THE VISIT OF DELCY RODRIGUEZ TO MOSCOW

     MOSCOW,  RUSSIA     --   Russia will continue to provide "legitimate humanitarian assistance" to Venezuela, which faces a "cynical campaign" by the United States and its allies against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after talks with Rodríguez in Moscow on Friday. "We believe that the best way to help Venezuelans is to expand practical, pragmatic and mutually advantageous cooperation," he said. There are no "presidential level" discussions on financial aid for Venezuela, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, adding that President Vladimir Putin does not have time on his agenda to meet with Rodriguez.

     "We hope that our Venezuelan partners resolve as soon as possible the difficulties, both internal policies and, of course, the economic difficulties that are currently occurring in the country," Peskov told reporters. While Russia continues to publicly support Maduro as a strategic partner in Latin America, the lukewarm response to aid requests underscores a growing recognition that Venezuela's disastrous economy is running out of public support as the opposition leader, Juan Guaido, challenge power with the support of the US UU and the regional states. Russian Senate leader Valentina Matviyenko will hold talks with Rodriguez on Sunday, RIA Novosti reported.

      Putin and top officials may sympathize with his ally, but they understand that the Maduro government is unlikely to survive the long-term crisis and that it does not make sense to send money, said Fyodor Lukyanov, head of the Foreign Policy and Defense Council. Russia, which advises the Kremlin. Russia will not send military forces to support the regime, as it did in Syria, because Venezuela is too far away and there is no reason for Putin to get involved "if the probability is high that it does not end as we would like," he said. Lavrov accused the United States of preparing to arm rebel groups in Venezuela with weapons acquired in Eastern Europe and said Washington's military intervention could not be ruled out.

MARCH 1ST.,  2019

DICTATOR NICOLAS MADURO LOOTED ANOTHER 8 TONS OF GOLD FROM VENEZUELA'S CENTRAL BANK

   CARACAS, VENEZUELA     -      Earlier this week, Vice President Mike Pence declared during a trip to Colombia that "every last dollar" generated by sales of Venezuelan oil, plus all of the country's assets held abroad, should be turned over to opposition leader Juan Guaido and his shadow government in Caracas, after government-aligned militias killed several protesters, and wounded dozens, during a weekend of violence as they sought to repel US-backed caravans carrying humanitarian aid. Reuters reported that the regime looted some 8 tons of gold - worth some $330 million at current prices - late last week and sold it to an unknown foreign buyer (suspicion immediately fell on Turkey) in defiance of US sanctions ordered by President Trump in November that prohibit the buying of Venezuelan gold.

     The opposition lawmakers who told Reuters about the looting criticized the move as illegal, and warned that Maduro likely intends to illegally sell the gold abroad. At least 8 tons of gold were removed from the Venezuelan central bank's vaults last week, an opposition legislator and three government sources told Reuters, in the latest sign of President Nicolas Maduro's desperation to raise hard currency amid tightening sanctions. The gold was removed in government vehicles between Wednesday and Friday last week when there were no regular security guards present at the bank, Legislator Angel Alvarado and the three government sources said.

      "They plan to sell it abroad illegally," Alvarado said in an interview. The central bank did not respond to requests for comment. Alvarado and the government sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not say where the central bank was sending the gold. They said the operation took place while central bank head Calixto Ortega was abroad on a trip. In 2018, 23 tons of mined gold were transported from Venezuela to Istanbul by plane, according to sources and Turkish government data. Since the beginning of Venezuela's economic crisis (which roughly coincided with Maduro's election in 2013), the country's reserves have dwindled. It is also struggling to recover some 31 tons of gold held at the Bank of England, which the UK government has refused to return.

SPAIN AND PERU BACK JUAN GUAIDO AND ASK FOR FREE ELECTIONS IN VENEZUELA

  
 LIMA, PERU   --
 The president of Peru, Martín Vizcarra, and the chief executive of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, today signed a statement in which they give their "firm" support to the head of the Parliament of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, to restore democracy and boost elections "free, fair and credible. " Vizcarra and Sanchez met on Thursday, the second day of the State visit of the Peruvian president to Spain, before the signing of various agreements and a joint statement to highlight "the solid strategic relationship" between the two countries. In that text, they dedicate a section to the situation in Venezuela, where they express their concern about "the serious humanitarian crisis that affects the Venezuelan population."

      Both leaders reiterate their "firm" support for Juan Guaidó and "their commitment to work in a coordinated manner to promote the restoration of democracy in that country, through the prompt holding of free, fair and credible presidential elections with unrestricted participation and under observation and international standards." In the joint declaration, disclosed by the Spanish Government, Spain and Peru express their defense "of multilateralism, democracy and the rule of law, full respect for human rights, gender equality, social justice and free trade" . They also reaffirm their support for Ibero-American summits to achieve "the full development of a space for political cooperation and agreement among nations that share common values and particularly close ties."

     At the bilateral level, the visit of Estado de Vizcarra, which became president of the country in March of last year, reflects the "excellent" moment of the bilateral strategic relationship and the desire to continue strengthening it in all areas. Proof of this are the seven agreements - apart from the joint declaration - sealed on fight against crime, exchange of classified defense information, development cooperation, youth mobility, natural disaster management, social security and culture. Spain and Peru also share their vision of a model of migration management based "on respect for human rights and the dignity of the person". The Spanish government expressed its commitment to the development of Peru with the signing of the new program of actions for the period 2019-2022, after the aid in the last five years has exceeded one hundred million euros (about 114 million dollars).

CIDH URGES NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF JUAN GUAIDO IN VENEZUELA

     WASHINGTON, D.C.     --   The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) urges the national institutions of the State of Venezuela to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of Juan Guaidó in accordance with the precautionary measure granted by CIDH on January 25, 2019. The Commission has learned that death threats were recently filed against Juan Guaidó, who is a beneficiary of precautionary measures granted by the IACHR. These threats would have been made through calls to relatives, and would have been preceded by other risk events that have been known by the Commission. These events include visits of alleged officers of a special unit of the Bolivarian Police to his home, as well as the temporary detention of which Mr. Guaidó was subjected on January 13, 2019, which was described by the authorities as "irregular".

     As the Commission pointed out in its Resolution 1/2019, Juan Guaidó is currently the most visible figure of opposition in a context of great political fragility and deep social upheaval, which has led to the mobilization of thousands of people in the streets of Venezuela, where there have been acts of violence. In this scenario, the Commission considered that the elements contributed by the applicants in the current political scenario demonstrate an exceptional high tension context in which there would be sectors politically divided around the actions that have been carried out in relation to the situation of Juan Guaidó. Given the profile that Juan Guaidó has at the present time, and the recognition of several countries as President in charge of Venezuela, the Commission considers that it would face a greater vulnerability or risk, if possible, the target of attacks.

     In view of the above, the Commission reiterates its Resolution 1/2019 and, in particular, urges the national institutions of the State of Venezuela to adopt the necessary measures to protect the rights to life and personal integrity, and guarantee the safety of Juan Gerardo Guaidó and his nuclear family, in accordance with the standards established by international human rights law, including the protection of their rights in relation to acts of risk attributable to third parties. The IACHR is a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate stems from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as an advisory body to the OAS on the matter. La Cidh is composed of seven independent members that are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.


 

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