Thursday, 21 March, 2019


Guaido asks state workers for support in push to oust Maduro

Venezuela descended into a major political crisis when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president in January and asserted that President Nicolas Maduro was no longer legitimate US eyes new sanctions against Venezuela’s Maduro regime: National Security Adviser John Bolton
Conrad Doyle | 08 March, 2019, 10:09

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has vowed to increase pressure on President Nicolas Maduro, who in turn promised to crush a "crazed minority" that wants to remove him from power.

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said sanctions had exacerbated the crisis but also slammed Maduro's "violations of civil and political rights" in her annual report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Sanctions have worsened Venezuela's crippling economic and political crisis, the United Nations human rights chief said Wednesday, March 6, as Washington warned it may expand measures targeting President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government.

"This situation has been exacerbated by sanctions", Bachelet said.

While Guaido had publicly speculated that authorities would detain him when he returned, he passed through Caracas' global airport without a problem.

Accusing Guaido of trying to destabilize the country, Maduro called on Venezuelans to hold massive "anti-imperialist" rallies.

Washington has not ruled out so-called "secondary sanctions" that could target foreign companies or other states that do business with Maduro's government.

More than 3 million Venezuelans have emigrated to flee the economic crisis and political crackdowns. Although Maduro said the opposition leader could be put in jail when he returned, Guaido nevertheless came back to Venezuela on Monday and announced a new protest against Maduro on Saturday. "They thought the pressure had reached its zenith but it's only just beginning".

The fact that Guaido was not arrested on arrival was seen as reflecting the worldwide pressure Maduro is facing, with US Vice President Mike Pence warning on Monday that any action against the opposition leader would be met with a "swift response". He had greeted Guaido at Caracas airport on his return to the country on Monday.

Just before his arrival, USA vice president Mike Pence sent a warning to Maduro to ensure Guaido's safety, and secretary of state Mike Pompeo later hailed his 'safe return'.

"In every democratic transition in Latin America there are negotiations, but I just would say it is extremely hard to see how he could play a positive role in a democratic election, " Abrams said.

"That's ultimately a decision for Venezuelans to make", Mr Abrams said.

Unions from the oil industry, basic services, the public bank and local government took part in the meeting, union leader Ana Yanez told AFP.

"The public administration is practically paralyzed".

As part of his challenge, Guaido is attempting to take control of the state bureaucracy, which he considers to have been "kidnapped" by Maduro through blackmail and persecution.

"We can not give in to provocations. there they are with their child's games", Maduro said at an event paying tribute to his predecessor Hugo Chavez, according to broadcaster NTN24 and other media.

He also called for big protests on Saturday, a tactic that has sometimes been countered by Maduro loyalists with flag-waving rallies of their own.

Maduro had been active on Twitter earlier in the day, again paying tribute to Chavez.

When he left Venezuela on February 23, Guaido said the military had helped him cross the border into Colombia, even though he was under a travel ban.

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