USA hits 'corrupt' Venezuela oil firm PDVSA with sanctions

Jan 29, 2019, 01:27
USA hits 'corrupt' Venezuela oil firm PDVSA with sanctions

- The Trump administration imposed sanctions Monday on the state-owned oil company of Venezuela, a potentially critical economic move aimed at increasing pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to cede power to the opposition.

The U.S. and other allies have recognized opposition leader and National Assembly President Juan Guaido's claim to be the country's interim president in a clash with Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro, a longtime thorn in the U.S.'s side in the region.

Asked about the possibility of a military option against Venezuela, which has rallied troops in support of Maduro in recent days, Bolton said that "the president has made it very clear.that all options are on the table".

The US and more than 20 countries have recognised opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president.

"We are going through a historical war for Venezuela, for our democracy and independence", Maduro said, and accused the USA of the recent crises in his country.

Maduro called Pompeo "a warlord" who speaks with "a lot of despair and hate" in an interview with CNN-Turk on Saturday after the US secretary spoke.

The stand-off has plunged troubled Venezuela into a new chapter of political turmoil that has already left more than two dozen dead as thousands took to the streets demanding Maduro step down.

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Maduro accused the US of attacking on Venezuela and planning a coup attempt in the country.

Australia, meanwhile, said it "recognizes and supports" Guaido as interim president pending elections.

The EU was more vague, saying it would take "further actions" if elections were not called in the coming days, including the issue of recognition of the country's "leadership".

Francisco Gonzalez, a pro-government analyst, said that while Maduro's weakness and Venezuela's economic and social problems are self-evident, many in the country resent the heavy-handed role the Trump administration is playing in the fast-unfolding crisis.

"We are waiting for you and the commitment you have to our constitution", Guaido said.

Meanwhile, Juan Guaido said in a statement on Monday that he had ordered Venezuela's congress to begin the process of naming new boards of directors to the PDVSA and United States refining subsidiary Citgo.

Maduro has backed down on his order to shut down the USA embassy in Caracas and the expulsion of all US diplomats.

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"We will continue denouncing United States lies, and I will continue to encourage national dialogue because I am up for a dialogue with all the political opposition, with the opposition media", he said.

Mr Maduro is still clinging to power and continues to have the support of the military at this stage.

Maduro was sworn in as president for a second term on January 10 following an election marred by allegations of vote-rigging.

Regime ally Russian Federation has accused the US of trying to stage a coup, and according to a report last week has dispatched about 400 military contractors to help Maduro with security amid street protests that have resulted in multiple deaths amid a military crackdown.

On Saturday, Venezuela's top military diplomat in Washington, Colonel Jose Luis Silva, defected from Maduro's government.

Both Russia and China are major creditors of Venezuela.

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