Category Archives: Venezuela

(Reuters) Venezuela opposition’s envoy to U.S. meets Pentagon, State Department officials

(Reuters)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Venezuelan opposition’s envoy to the United States said he met Pentagon and State Department officials in Washington on Monday to discuss “all aspects of the Venezuelan crisis.”

Carlos Vecchio, opposition leader Juan Guaido’s ambassador to Washington, said in a message on Twitter that the talks held at the State Department had been “very positive” but offered no further details. “We continue to advance,” he said.

The talks were arranged at the request of Guaido, leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly who invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency in January, arguing that socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate.

The United States and many European and Latin American countries have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader. But Maduro retains control of state functions and the support of the military’s top brass, as well as allies such as Russia, Cuba and China.

The purpose of Monday’s meeting was to discuss the U.S. Defense Department’s “past and future role related to humanitarian assistance and regional support,” a State Department official said ahead of the talks.

President Donald Trump and senior aides have not ruled out military action in the crisis-stricken South American country, repeatedly saying that “all options are on the table.”

But Washington has made clear it prefers to exert continued economic and diplomatic pressure to push Maduro out, and many experts have said the U.S. use of military force is unlikely.

(LaVenezuelaDelSiglo21) Venezuela for Dummies – 2019: Maduro The Usurper

(LaVenezuelaDelSiglo21)

I know these days we have much news to take of The Brexit, Trump and the wall (again), and always the Kardashians are doing something we want to know better. Also, you’ve heard about Venezuela (again). Venezuela has two presidents; yes, two presidents. It is like Game of Thrones, there is one legitime president, and one sit on the iron throne, the usurper.

It sounds complicated; it is complicated. Then, I only ask you to read and read a lot before you can have an opinion. This crisis has over twenty years. It is not a war between poor and rich people. It is dictatorship, violence, immigration, and thousands of people dying. If you want to understand better the crisis, you can read these articles:

Venezuela for Dummies – Part I

Venezuela for Dummies – Part II

Venezuela for Dummies – Part III

Two keys to understanding the battle of the two presidents

1.    It is not a coup d’etat.

I will repeat: it is not a coup d’etat. You can watch the moment Juan Guaidó sworn as Interim President of Venezuela. The place was full of people who sworn with him. Venezuelans are happy because this guy is the new president. There is no military presence in Guaidó’s actions.

The truth is Nicolas Maduro has never won an election even worse, according to the Constitution he should not have run in the first elections because he was the Interim President in 2013 and it was illegal. Nicolas Madura said he won in 2013 and 2018. A lie.

All the democratic powers are in Maduro’s hands: military, electoral and judicial. He only lost the Congress, and as an answer, he tried to eliminate, and later he invented a parallel Assembly.

In January, our legally elect National Assembly chose a new president of this institution. This guy named Juan Gaidó became the president of the Congress; he read our Constitution deeply and determined that according to the article 223 the illegal election of 2018 made Nicolas Maduro’s government illegal. The National Assembly does not recognize Maduro. Then, Guaidó as president of National Assembly assumed the executive power. It is legal. You can research our Constitution.

Also, if you want my opinion, we could have done this action years ago, but only Guaidó has the idea.

2.    It is not the US interventionism.

I don’t like Donald Trump nor Marco Rubio nor Republican party as much as you do. But, I have to admit that their help is invaluable. You have an idealized idea about democracy because you have lived and grew up in a place where democracy works, but when the democracy dies, and the power is all in one place, the citizens are prisoners.

It is too easy to say “Why you don’t protest?” We did. We have protested for eighteen years. We have lost hundreds of Venezuelans in these protests; they were murdered because they went to express their dissatisfaction, and thousands have been arrested, and they became political prisoners; they’ve tortured. Only the last week (January 21 and January 26) there are almost 30 murders and 300 political prisoners (one of then a 14-year-girl). Think in all these mothers who lost their kids because they went to protest.

You can ask “Why don’t they vote?” Because it is a farce. We do not trust our electoral institution; any results they gave is a lie.

We need help; we need help from other countries. We need somebody who stands with us and gives us the tools to wake up of this nightmare. Trump administration is helping. Do you know the US is the biggest buyer of Venezuela’s oil? The US government recognize Guaidó as president. Then, they will start paying our money to Guaidó instead of Maduro.

I like this simile: if you see your neighbors hurting their kids, you will call the police; won’t you? Because even though it is not your house, you want to help those kids. Here is the same.

I only ask you don’t judge this situation just because you hate Trump. It is the first time he is helping somebody else. And if you are worried about interventionism, please check to whet Cuba, Russia, and China are doing with Venezuela.

Venezuelan crisis is not over. I don’t know if we can have a change with Juan Guaidó. Maybe, it does not work, but I can say Venezuelans want to live in freedom. We are not going to stop until we get it.

(DN) Venezuela: General da aviação revela-se contra Nicolás Maduro

(DN) Caracas, 12 mai 2019 (Lusa) – O general de divisão da Força Aérea Venezuelana, Ramón Rangel, declarou hoje desobediência ao regime do Presidente Nicolás Maduro, e instou os venezuelanos a lutarem contra a “influência castro-comunista” no país.

“Não mais castro-comunismo para a Venezuela, temos que ser livres, soberanos, retomar a nossa soberania. Chegou a hora de nos levantarmos e lutar contra o castro-comunismo”, afirma num vídeo divulgado através do Youtube.

Ramon Rángel foi um dos militares que em 1992 participou na frustrada intentona golpista contra o então presidente Carlos Andrés Pérez (falecido, foi Presidente entre 1989 e 1993 e entre 1974 e 1979) liderado pelo falecido líder socialista Hugo Chávez (foi Presidente entre 1999 e 2013).

“É inconcebível que mais de quatro milhões de venezuelanos peçam esmola fora do país (…). Temos que afastar o medo e sair às ruas para protestar, para buscar a união militar e para mudar este sistema político”, afirma.

No vídeo, o militar diz atuar segundo a constituição venezuelana e apela às Forças Armadas Bolivarianas da Venezuela para que se “apeguem ao artigo 328” da Constituição, que afirma que os cidadãos “não devem ser servis a uma pessoa ou parcialidade política”.

“Não continuemos dizendo leais sempre, traidores nunca, porque estamos sendo traidores à Constituição Nacional”, afirma o militar.

Por outro lado, explica que durante vários anos, a pedido de Hugo Chávez, esteve em Havana como encarregado de negócios e insistiu que “o povo cubano está submetido a uma ditadura” desde há mais de sessenta anos.

“Ao estar em Cuba, eu estava a ser servil, não apenas a uma parcialidade política, mas ao castro-comunismo que nos levou (na Venezuela) ao que hoje em dia temos como resultado da união entre Cuba e Venezuela”, disse.

A presidente da ONG Organização Controlo Cidadão para a Segurança e Defesa das Forças Armadas, Rocío San Miguel, já reagiu à declaração do general Ramón Rangel contra Nicolás Maduro, afirmando que o militar é conhecedor do relacionamento entre Caracas e Havana.

“O significado do pronunciamento do general de divisão Ramón Rangel é muito importante. Ele conhece a trama de negócios Caracas-Havana. Os segredos do tratamento da doença e morte de Chávez em Cuba e do rumo que está a tomar o chavismo militar na sua rotura com (Nicolás) Maduro”, escreveu na sua conta do Twitter.

Desde janeiro último que vários militares se têm manifestado contra o Governo do Presidente Nicolás Maduro e manifestado apoio ao Presidente do parlamento, o opositor Juan Guaidó.

A crise política na Venezuela agravou-se em 23 de janeiro, quando Juan Guaidó, jurou assumir as funções de presidente interino e prometeu formar um Governo de transição e organizar eleições livres.

Guaidó, de 35 anos, contou de imediato com o apoio de mais de 50 países, incluindo os EUA e a maioria dos países da União Europeia, entre os quais Portugal, que o reconheceram como presidente interino encarregado de organizar eleições livres e transparentes.

Na madrugada de 30 de abril, um grupo de militares manifestou apoio a Juan Guaidó, que pediu à população para sair à rua e exigir uma mudança de regime.

Nicolás Maduro, 56 anos, no poder desde 2013, denunciou a iniciativa do presidente do parlamento como uma tentativa de golpe de Estado liderada pelos Estados Unidos.

À crise política na Venezuela soma-se uma grave crise económica e social, que já levou mais de 2,3 milhões de pessoas a fugirem do país desde 2015, de acordo com dados da ONU.

(OBS) Ação militar “cirúrgica” para retirar Maduro da Venezuela está a ser preparada

(OBS)

Há cerca de uma semana que o Departamento de Estado dos EUA, a OEA e a oposição exilada estão a preparar uma operação de extração que se pretende ser “limpa e curta, como a de Bin Laden”.Partilhe

Há cerca de uma semana que o Departamento de Estado dos EUA, a Organização do Estados Americanos (OEA) e membros exilados da oposição ao governo venezuelano estão a preparar uma operação de extração de Nicolás Maduro que se pretende ser “limpa e curta, como a de Osama Bin Laden“, noticia este sábado o El Español.

Poucos dias após a libertação do opositor Leopoldo López da prisão domiciliária em que se encontrava, o jornal espanhol teve acesso a um documento secreto que esquematiza o plano em preparação — um processo em que a OEA, liderada pelo uruguaio Luis Almagro, um feroz opositor de Hugo Chávez e Nicolás Maduro, está a ter um papel fundamental. Outra figura-chave é Miguel Angél Martín Tortabú, um dos representantes do Supremo Tribunal venezuelano que estão em exílio. Com a colaboração do Departamento de Estado dos EUA, o plano está a ser preparado, com a consciência de que “a ditadura não sairá voluntariamente”.

“Com a saída de Maduro, ou a sua detenção — isto é, a saída pelo próprio pé ou com algemas — a caminho de um exílio ou uma prisão no estrangeiro, o processo é inexorável e estamos a prepará-lo há cerca de uma semana”, disse uma fonte envolvida no processo ao El Español. “A operação de extração, se for necessária, será como a de Osama Bin Laden, limpa e curta — há apenas três ou quatro pessoas que têm de ser detidas”.

O líder da oposição a Nicolás Maduro na Venezuela deu uma entrevista à RTP na qual fez depender a hipótese de uma ação militar na Venezuela que resolva o impasse no país do apoio de aliados internacionais. Juan Guaidó, que é reconhecido por mais de 50 países (mas não por Nicolás Maduro) como presidente interino da Venezuela, afirmou à estação pública portuguesa que uma intervenção externa no país acontecerá mediante dois pressupostos: “quando os aliados estiverem dispostos a dar esse tipo de ajuda” e sendo “a última opção — ou a única — que reste aos venezuelanos”.

(MoscowTimes) Putin Is Ready to Give Up Venezuela for the Right Price

(MoscowTimes) Sergei Lavrov and Mike Pompeo will soon meet in Helsinki to discuss Venezuela’s future.

Bruno KellyReuters

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are heading towards a contentious meeting in Finland (their first since the Helsinki summit last year) with the crisis in Venezuela crowding out almost all other items on the agenda.

Last week, Russia and Cuba may have thwarted a U.S. backed plot to engineer a peaceful transfer of power from Nicolas Maduro to a transitional government led by interim president Juan Guaido and Venezuela’s top officials, including Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino and Supreme Court Chief Justice Maikel Moreno.

Secretary Pompeo accused Moscow of dissuading Maduro from leaving the country (allegedly he was assured of safe passage to Guatemala) when his plane was already on the tarmac. Moscow furiously denied the charges when Pompeo phoned Lavrov on May 1 to protest.

On May 3, U.S. President Donald Trump called Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to flag American concerns over Russia’s “disruptive role” in Venezuela and stress his country’s determination to ensure Venezuela’s return to democratic rule.

But, as common in his personal interactions with Putin, Trump quickly lost the initiative, allowing the discussion on Venezuela to drift towards the softer subject of humanitarian aid.

Putin expressed Russia’s displeasure with U.S interference in Venezuela while convincing Trump that he “was not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela”.

Despite Trump’s going “full Helsinki” on his phone chat with Putin, the U.S.-Russia geopolitical stand-off in Venezuela now threatens to derail the few remaining cooperative lanes in the relationship. White House national security advisor John Bolton made it clear on May 1: “This is our hemisphere — it’s not where the Russians ought to be interfering”.

Three weeks ago, the same point, in even more forceful terms, was privately made by Fiona Hill, NSC Senior Director for Europe, Russia and Eurasia during her visit to Moscow.

The Kremlin was struck by Hill’s prioritization of Venezuela as the most important issue in the relationship due to its direct impact on U.S. politics and the 2020 presidential race in Florida. Moscow concluded then it found an issue it could use to force the U.S. to grant concession elsewhere, most notably in Ukraine.

Russia believes that the risk of a U.S. military intervention in Venezuela is low (despite secret meetings at the Pentagon), since Trump does not want to get stuck in another unpopular war. But politically Trump is so heavily invested in a “win” in Venezuela that he has all but drawn himself an untenable red line with prospects of a major loss of face, while his strategy there is just “winging it”. Moscow may be undervaluing Trump’s ability to turn on a dime, but still thinks it finally has leverage.

Russia’s support for Maduro is driven by financial and energy interests, as well as by the Kremlin’s vision of a multi-polar world order, where Russia should block U.S. attempts at regime change in sovereign states friendly to Moscow. But the Russian leadership practices a transactional approach to international affairs in line with Russia’s hierarchy, where core Russian interests trump goals of less importance.

Bolton’s invocation of the Monroe Doctrine and his “spheres of influence framing” makes Moscow believe that, if done on an equal basis, a similar right should be recognized for Russia in Ukraine and other parts of the “near abroad”.

For Moscow, a deal of equals on Venezuela where Russia helps the U.S. diffuse the crisis by engineering a constitutional transition, should involve an equally significant concession by the U.S. (on a par with JFK-Khrushchev deal to remove nuclear missiles from Cuba and Turkey) to pressure Kiev into fully implementing the Minsk-2 agreements that would truncate Ukraine’s sovereignty and allow Moscow to retain some degree of control over Kiev’s security policies.

Putin specifically mentioned that during his call with Trump. Withdrawing Russian military support for Maduro should also be matched by the withdrawal of U.S. military assistance to Ukraine.

So far Moscow has been frustrated by American refusal to engage in such bargaining of equals through the U.S. initiated bilateral high-level channel of communication on Venezuela (which Moscow assumed it was intended for). The first meeting between Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov and U.S. Special Envoy for Venezuela Elliot Abrams in mid-March ended in the U.S. presenting no bargains and simply repeating its demands Russia ends its support for Maduro.

Sending two Russian military planes to Caracas days after the meeting in Rome was Moscow signaling its position if America wasn’t ready to take them seriously going forward.

Trust between Moscow and Washington is currently non-existent. No side could be sure that even if a deal was reached, the other side would implement its end of the bargain. The meeting between Lavrov and Pompeo may prove to be as bitter as the one held by Hill if neither side signals their willingness to negotiate. Or it might be the wrong format altogether, actual deals might require a secret channel or a one-on-one presidential sit-down.

Moscow, however, knows that the events of last week do not augur well for Maduro’s long-term rule. The Venezuelan military is sitting on the fence and its leaders are mulling their options.

The deal offered to them by the opposition (not just amnesty, but a retention of their power in the transitional government) is more serious than anything discussed before. Moscow does not have control over Venezuela’s military the way it had in Syria, where pro-Assad officers knew they and their families would be slaughtered if they lost the war. Nor are there foreign expeditionary forces of non-Russian provenance supplied and funded by an allied power (Iran) to do the heaviest fighting.

Moscow is ready to sell its stake in Maduro, but it is still unclear whether Washington is ready to offer the right price.

(OBS) Trump admite abertura económica a Cuba se a ilha retirar apoio a Maduro

(OBS) A Casa Branca acusa Cuba de ter cerca de 25 mil cubanos infiltrados na Venezuela e admite uma abertura económica se a ilha retirar o seu apoio a Maduro, caso contrário reforçará o bloqueio económico.Partilhe

Os EUA endurecerão a sua posição contra a ilha “se não deixarem a Venezuela”

O Presidente dos Estados Unidos, Donald Trump, admitiu na quarta-feira uma abertura económica a Cuba se a ilha retirar o seu apoio ao Presidente venezuelano Nicolás Maduro, caso contrário reforçará o bloqueio económico.

“Com o movimento certo, Cuba poderia sair-se muito bem, poderíamos fazer uma abertura”, disse Trump, em entrevista ao canal de televisão Fox Business, na qual reiterou, uma vez mais, que os EUA endurecerão a sua posição contra a ilha “se não deixarem a Venezuela”.

Na terça-feira, Trump ameaçou, no Twitter, que “se as tropas e milícias cubanas não CESSAREM imediatamente as suas operações militares e de outro tipo, com o objetivo de provocar morte e destruição à Constituição da Venezuela, será imposto à ilha de Cuba um embargo completo, juntamente com sanções do maior nível”.

A Casa Branca acusa Cuba de ter cerca de 25 mil cubanos da sua Defesa infiltrados na Venezuela, algo que a ilha nega, acusando Washington de “mentir descaradamente”.

Na quarta-feira, o secretário de Estado norte-americano, Mike Pompeo, disse que uma “ação militar” é “possível”, se for “necessária” para favorecer a transição política na Venezuela.

(BBG) There Is No Coup in Venezuela

(BBG) The uprising in Caracas is an attempt to restore the government’s legitimacy, not overthrow it.

Not what it looks like.
Not what it looks like. Photographer: Yuri Cortez/AFP

Eli Lake is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering national security and foreign policy. He was the senior national security correspondent for the Daily Beast and covered national security and intelligence for the Washington Times, the New York Sun and UPI.R

It’s unclear what will unfold in Venezuela now that interim president Juan Guaido has called for the military and citizens to take to the streets. What is clear, however, is that this is not a coup.

You wouldn’t know this from the early news coverage. “Trump Aides Back Unfolding Venezuela Coup Attempt,” reads a typical headline in Politico. CNN blared “Coup in Venezuela” in its chyron (it has amended its website to call it an “uprising”). The headlines match the messaging of Nicolas Maduro’s regime. As the country’s information minister tweeted, the event is a small group of traitors attempting a coup.

All of this is wrong, for a few reasons. To start, the dissatisfaction in Venezuela appears to rise to higher levels than the government cares to admit. For example: On Tuesday morning, according to one source close to Guaido’s interim government, the soldiers that were standing guard at the home of Leopoldo Lopez told him he was free to go. The former opposition leader had been under house arrest since July 2017.

Related: A Coup in Venezuela? That Word Is Best Avoided in This Situation

Lopez endured one of Venezuela’s worst prisons. Maduro made sure to make an example of him. The soldiers who let Lopez go free were defying one of Maduro’s most important orders.

U.S. and Venezuelan interim government officials have also said that in recent months there have been back-channel communications between Guaido’s team and military leaders. The planning for the Tuesday’s uprising has been underway for months.

In public Guaido has pressed the National Assembly to adopt measures offering amnesty for military officers who have not engaged in violent crimes. Privately, the opposition and military have managed to subvert the Maduro regime’s blocking of electronic communications — by delivering messages by hand and arranging face-to-face meetings. That is one reason Guaido was able to address the country on Tuesday morning from an air force base without being harmed or captured.

Guaido himself, actually, is the other main reason the rebellion in Venezuela is not a coup: The interim president, who is recognized by the U.S. and dozens of other nations, has democratic legitimacy. Maduro is responsible for this turn of events. In May 2018, Maduro won a so-called election that no serious outside observer found to be free or fair. His second term began on Jan. 10, which is when Venezuela’s Supreme Court in exile ruled that Maduro had exceeded his authority by staying in power after his legitimate term in office.

The bottom line is that, after Jan. 10, a sequence of events began that ended with Guaido invoking a provision of the Venezuelan constitution that makes the leader of the National Assembly interim president when the presidency is vacated.

Compare Guaido’s respect for the rule of law to Maduro’s. Since the opposition won a majority in the National Assembly in 2015, Maduro has delegitimized that institution, replacing it with an emergency body that was initially created to change the constitution. Maduro has also packed the courts, arrested his opponents and assumed more power. All the while, he has put his country in hock to loans from China and Russia, while allowing Cuba to staff the top levels of his security and intelligence services.

Guaido and his supporters are now trying to save their country from Maduro’s misrule. If the military does indeed defect this week, forcing Maduro to leave, Guaido has pledged to quickly prepare Venezuela for real elections. That’s not an anti-democratic coup. It’s a democratic rescue mission.

(ZH) Venezuela Leaders Confirm Active Coup Attempt In The Country

(ZH)

Multiple reports say a military coup attempt is ongoing Tuesday morning in Venezuela as an anti-Guaido militia loyal to opposition leader and US-backed Juan Guaidó tries to establish military control of key points across the capital of Caracas and other major cities. 

Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez confirmed via social media the government is in the midst of putting down what’s being described as a “small coup” by military “traitors”working with the right-wing opposition. File photo of Venezuela soldier in Caracas, via AFP

The AP has confirmed ongoing clashes between coup supporters and police inside Caracas, including reports of tear gas being fired, moments after Guaido issued statements in a video calling for a military uprising. Guaido was shown in the video accompanied by detained activist Leopoldo Lopez and surrounded by well-armed soldiers. 

Crucially, Lopez said he was liberated from captivity where Maduro had put him under house arrest for leading opposition unrest in 2014, and in the video called on all Venezuelans to peacefully take to streets.

Juan Guaidó@jguaido

En el marco de nuestra constitución. Y por el cese definitivo de la usurpación. https://www.pscp.tv/w/b5gQ9TUwMjc4NDN8MXJteFBlakJydlhLTlWvemxFNY_71g4QomAN12W3ykWFevDO_7lCRAawcIAW …19.4K10:46 AM – Apr 30, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacyJuan Guaido @jguaidoEn el marco de nuestra constitución. Y por el cese definitivo de la usurpación.pscp.tv20.5K people are talking about this

The AP described the video which apparently sparked the subsequent anti-Maduro action in Caracas:

In the three-minute video shot early Tuesday, Guaido said soldiers who took to the streets would be acting to protect Venezuela’s constitution. He made the comments a day before a planned anti-government rally. 

“The moment is now,” he said, as his political mentor Lopez and several heavily armed soldiers backed by a single armored vehicle looked on.

“Everyone should come to the streets, in peace,” Lopez said further. The past months have seen multiple failed attempts to generate some kind of mass military and civilian uprising against Maduro, but so far all attempts have failed to generate any significant momentum, size, or staying power.

Embedded video

BNL NEWS@BreakingNLive

BREAKING NEWS: Interim President of Venezuela Juan Guaido has started a military coup against Maduro. Heavily armed military forces are in various locations across the capital and other major cities 58211:49 AM – Apr 30, 2019462 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

So far Venezuela authorities have confirmed only coming up against a handful of armed militia members, which suggests Tuesday morning’s anti-Maduro action will likely be short-lived. 

(Reuters) Exclusive: Blackwater founder’s latest sales pitch – mercenaries for Venezuela

(Reuters)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Erik Prince – the founder of the controversial private security firm Blackwater and a prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump – has been pushing a plan to deploy a private army to help topple Venezuela’s socialist president, Nicholas Maduro, four sources with knowledge of the effort told Reuters.

Over the last several months, the sources said, Prince has sought investment and political support for such an operation from influential Trump supporters and wealthy Venezuelan exiles. In private meetings in the United States and Europe, Prince sketched out a plan to field up to 5,000 soldiers-for-hire on behalf of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, according to two sources with direct knowledge of Prince’s pitch.

One source said Prince has conducted meetings about the issue as recently as mid-April.

White House National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis declined to comment when asked whether Prince had proposed his plan to the government and whether it would be considered. A person familiar with the administration’s thinking said the White House would not support such a plan.

Venezuela opposition officials have not discussed security operations with Prince, said Guaido spokesman Edward Rodriguez, who did not answer additional questions from Reuters. The Maduro government did not respond to a request for comment.

Some U.S. and Venezuelan security experts, told of the plan by Reuters, called it politically far-fetched and potentially dangerous because it could set off a civil war. A Venezuelan exile close to the opposition agreed but said private contractors might prove useful, in the event Maduro’s government collapses, by providing security for a new administration in the aftermath.

A spokesman for Prince, Marc Cohen, said this month that Prince “has no plans to operate or implement an operation in Venezuela” and declined to answer further questions.

Lital Leshem – the director of investor relations at Prince’s private equity firm, Frontier Resource Group – earlier confirmed Prince’s interest in Venezuela security operations.

“He does have a solution for Venezuela, just as he has a solution for many other places,” she said, declining to elaborate on his proposal.

The two sources with direct knowledge of Prince’s pitch said it calls for starting with intelligence operations and later deploying 4,000 to 5,000 soldiers-for-hire from Colombia and other Latin American nations to conduct combat and stabilization operations.

‘DYNAMIC EVENT’

For Prince, the unlikely gambit represents the latest effort in a long campaign to privatize warfare. The wealthy son of an auto-parts tycoon has fielded private security contractors in conflict zones from Central Asia to Africa to the Middle East.

One of Prince’s key arguments, one source said, is that Venezuela needs what Prince calls a “dynamic event” to break the stalemate that has existed since January, when Guaido – the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly – declared Maduro’s 2018 re-election illegitimate and invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency.

Maduro has denounced Guaido, who has been backed by most western nations, as a U.S. puppet who is seeking to foment a coup. Key government institutions – including the military – have not shifted their loyalty to Guaido despite increasing international pressure from sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies.

Guaido has stressed that he wants a peaceful resolution, and Latin American governments recognizing his authority have urged against outside military action. Senior U.S. officials, without ruling out armed intervention, have also emphasized economic and diplomatic measures to pressure Maduro.

CLOSE TIES TO TRUMP

Prince was a pioneer in private military contracting during the Iraq war, when the U.S. government hired Blackwater primarily to provide security for State Department operations there.

In 2007, Blackwater employees shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians at Nisour Square in Baghdad, sparking international outrage. One of the Blackwater employees involved was convicted of murder in December and three others have been convicted of manslaughter.Slideshow (2 Images)

Prince renamed the Blackwater security company and sold it in 2010, but he recently opened a company called Blackwater USA, which sells ammunition, silencers and knives. Over the past two years, he has led an unsuccessful campaign to convince the Trump administration to replace U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan with security contractors.

Since 2014, Prince has run the Hong Kong-based Frontier Services Group, which has close ties to the state-owned Chinese investment company CITIC and helps Chinese firms operating in Africa with security, aviation and logistics services.

Prince donated $100,000 to a political action committee that supported Trump’s election. His sister, Betsy DeVos, is the administration’s education secretary.

Prince’s role in Trump’s campaign was highlighted in the report by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, released this month, on alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

The report outlined how Prince financed an effort to authenticate purported Hillary Clinton emails and how in 2016 he met in the Seychelles islands, off east Africa, with a wealthy Russian financial official on behalf of Trump’s presidential transition team.

Prince spokesman Cohen declined to comment on the Mueller report.

TARGETING FROZEN ASSETS

The two sources with direct knowledge of Prince’s Venezuela plan said he is seeking $40 million from private investors. He also aims to get funding from the billions of dollars in Venezuelan assets that have been seized by governments around the world imposing sanctions on the OPEC nation, a major oil exporter.

It’s unclear, however, how the Venezuelan opposition could legally access those assets. Prince told people in pitch meetings, the sources said, that he believes that Guaido has the authority to form his own military force because he has been recognized internationally as Venezuela’s rightful leader.

Prince envisions a force made up of “Peruvians, Ecuadoreans, Colombians, Spanish speakers,” one of the sources said, adding that Prince argued that such soldiers would be more politically palatable than American contractors.

(BBC) Venezuela crisis: Day off as fresh power cuts shut down services

(BBC)

A dark skyline in Caracas
Image captionLights went out and mobile phone and television services were disrupted in Caracas

Venezuela’s government has told workers and students to stay at home as the country faces a second day without electricity.

Hospitals, public transport, water and other services have been affected.

The capital, Caracas, was first plunged into darkness on Monday. Power was restored four hours later, before a second blackout struck.

A days-long nationwide power cut earlier this month prompted looting and desperation in parts of the country.

President Nicolás Maduro’s government blames the power cuts on an “attack” by the opposition, led by Juan Guaidó.

The opposition cites two decades of underinvestment and corruption by the socialist government as the cause of the power outage.

“Nothing is working,” Yendresca Munoz, a 34-year-old bank analyst living in Caracas told Reuters news agency. “During blackout days you can’t do anything at all. There’s no internet, no access to cash.”

Other big cities, including Barquisimeto, Maracaibo in the west of the country, have also been reportedly affected.

On Twitter, Mr Guaidó said: “When our people need certainty in the middle of another unsettling blackout, how can they go on repeating excuses of an ‘electricity war’ and sabotage?”

Since January, the opposition leader has been locked in a power struggle with Mr Maduro’s government, which is grappling with a severe economic crisis.

Last week, Mr Guaidó’s chief of staff was arrested on terrorism charges in another escalation of the political crisis.

What happened?

Power first went down in Caracas around 13:20 (17:20 GMT) on Monday, causing chaos in the city’s public transport system as the metro shut down and many thousands of people had to stream home on foot or by bus.

A crowded bus in Caracas with a huge queue outside
Image captionThe metro closure in Caracas forced people to take crowded buses

Electricity was restored about four hours later but cut out again at 21:50, Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez was quoted as saying by Efe news agency.

He had gone on state TV earlier to repeat the now-familiar assertion that opposition sabotage rather than a lack of maintenance had caused the afternoon blackout, saying hackers had attacked computers at the country’s main hydroelectric dam.

The minister boasted that the first power cut had been fixed in “record time”. Since the second outage, power has still not been restored.

Because of the problems with the power supply, TV viewers could only see a garbled picture when Mr Rodríguez went live on air, a correspondent for the UK’s Guardian newspaper tweeted from Caracas.Skip Twitter post by @tomphillipsin

Embedded video

Tom Phillips@tomphillipsin

Venezuela’s information minister is doing a live broadcaster to nation to denounce the opposition but because of blackout it looks like this4129:25 PM – Mar 25, 2019279 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacyReport

End of Twitter post by @tomphillipsin

Meanwhile, Brazil’s mines and energy minister Bento Albuquerque said that since 7 March, Venezuela has failed to fulfil its contract to supply electricity to the northern Brazilian state of Roraima.

He said Brazil was working to start building a transmission line to connect Roraima to the rest of the Brazilian power grid in the second half of the year for completion in 2021, so that it was not reliant on Venezuela.

He added that Brazil would also seek public contracts for renewable energy, such as wind and solar, as another alternative to Venezuela’s supply.

(ABC) Zapatero tanteó con Maduro su posible exilio

(ABC) Un portavoz del departamento de Estado dijo ayer que no tiene constancia de los viajes del expresidente del Gobierno

El viaje relámpago a Venezuela del expresidente del Gobierno español José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero sirvió para tantear a Nicolás Maduro sobre posibles destinos, incluida España, en el caso de que finalmente decida abandonar el poder ante la presión internacional. Según fuentes de la oposición venezolana en EE.UU., Zapatero viajó desde República Dominicana en un avión gubernamental venezolano el lunes y estuvo en Caracas menos de 24 horas.

Tras el aluvión de críticas que Zapatero ha recibido por parte de los opositores al régimen y los diplomáticos nombrados por Guaidó, varios de estos dicen ahora a ABC que el político español ha empleado sus buenas relaciones con Maduro para saber si está dispuesto a facilitar una vía de salida a la crisis yendo al exilio en un país en el que él y su familia podrían estar a salvo.

En una rueda de prensa el 12 de marzo, el representante especial de EE.UU. para Venezuela reveló que considera que España es un destino lógico para la cúpula del régimen si esta opta por el exilio. «Ya fue Felipe González, cuando era primero ministro, quien dijo que España podría acoger a esta gente. Y sí, hemos tenido conversaciones al respecto con España», dijo entonces Elliott Abrams.

Un portavoz del departamento de Estado dijo ayer que no tiene constancia de los viajes de Zapatero y que no ha recibido comunicación ninguna de este o del Gobierno español. El Gobierno de Pedro Sánchez también ha rechazado dar explicaciones, ya que considera que los viajes de Zapatero son a título privado. En 2015 el expresidente abandonó el Consejo de Estado para asesorar a una fundación alemana.

El exilio no protegería a Maduro de las denuncias de organizaciones humanitarias.

(News.com) Venezuela crisis: Russian troops in Caracas threaten US intervention plans

(News.com) Vladimir Putin has flown Russian troops into crisis-torn Venezuela, as the United States dithers over the need for intervention.Jamie Seidel, APNews Corp Australia NetworkMARCH 25, 20193:02PM

Venezuela crisis: Vladimir Putin has flown Russian troops into the country

Two Russian aircraft have landed in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, offloading cargoes of troops and military equipment.

It’s President Putin’s latest play on the world stage, after blindsiding the US with its intervention in Syria and Ukraine.

Venezuela is in crisis.

Its currency is virtually worthless as hyperinflation spins out of control. Basic foodstuffs and medicine are simply not available. Law and order is breaking down, with its fishing fleets turning to piracy in the Caribbean. A mass exodus of its population is underway to neighbouring countries.

Russian troops are seen disembarking from a transport plane outside Caracas, Venezuela. Picture via Federico Black B

Russian troops are seen disembarking from a transport plane outside Caracas, Venezuela. Picture via Federico Black BSource:Supplied

The US State Department has openly backed opposition leader Juan Guaido. But President Nicolas Maduro maintains control over the military.

In January, Guaido declared himself interim president, saying Maduro’s re-election last year was rigged. Maduro alleges that Guaido is a collaborator in a US-directed plot to overthrow him.

The arrival of Russian troops — accompanied by Chief of Staff of Russian Ground Forces Vasily Tonkoshkurov — is set to strengthen Maduro’s position significantly. It poses a major diplomatic and military upset for any US plans to intervene on Guaido’s behalf.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and President of Syria Bashar al-Assad, right, inspect arriving troops at the Russian air base in Hmeimim in the northwestern Syrian province of Latakia. A similar intervention may soon happen in Venezuela. Picture: AFP

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and President of Syria Bashar al-Assad, right, inspect arriving troops at the Russian air base in Hmeimim in the northwestern Syrian province of Latakia. A similar intervention may soon happen in Venezuela. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

MOSCOW’S MOVE

The Russian aircraft arrived in Caracas this weekend as part of “ongoing military co-operation” between the two allies, a Venezuelan official said overnight.

Russian military officials and troops are visiting to discuss equipment maintenance and training, and strategy, the official told local media on condition of anonymity.

Moscow has previously stated its intention to prevent “provocations” in Venezuela.

“We are very much concerned that the US could carry out any provocations to shed blood, to find a cause and reasons for an intervention in Venezuela,” Close Putin ally and leader of the Russian upper house of parliament Valentina Matvienko told Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez during a recent visit to Moscow. “But we will do all in order not to allow this,”

Now, the presence of a Russian ‘force on the ground’ threatens to confound any international efforts to restore order to the collapsing country.undefined

And it’s not the first time Moscow has signalled its support for President Maduro, who has rejected demands from the United States and dozens of other countries that he resign.

In December, two nuclear-capable Tu-160 strategic bombers were sent to Venezuela as a highly visible demonstration of Russia’s ability to intervene.

United States officials and members of government expressed concern at discussions between Moscow and Caracas about the potential establishment of a Russian military air base on a Venezuelan island.

It’s a scenario that evokes memories of the Cuban missile crisis of the 1960s.

Now, President Putin has taken another bold step.

Russian soldiers in Simferopol, Crimea. The presence of Russian troops on the ground in Venezuela threatens to foil US plans to intervene. Picture: AP

Russian soldiers in Simferopol, Crimea. The presence of Russian troops on the ground in Venezuela threatens to foil US plans to intervene. Picture: APSource:AP

TROOPS FLY IN

Russia says it is concerned that the US is considering military intervention in Venezuela, with President Putin criticising US support for Guaido.

The US says it is focusing on economic and diplomatic efforts to oust Maduro, though President Trump has said “all options are on the table.”

Last week, US and Russian officials met in Rome to discuss the crisis, but remained split on how to resolve it.

Now, things have just become a whole lot more complicated.

Analysts noted a Russian air force plane, apparently headed to Caracas while flying across the Caribbean Saturday night. The Ilyushin IL-62 passenger and cargo jet had flown from Moscow via Syria, where Russia supports President Bashar Al-Assad.

View image on Twitter
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View image on Twitter

Federico Black B.@FedericoBlackB

Hoy llegaron al aeropuerto Internacional de Maiquetía estos dos aviones de la Fuerza Aerea rusa.

1 Ilyushin Il-62M
1 Antomov 124

Fotos: cortesía1,2119:59 PM – Mar 23, 20194,031 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

News and social media pictures confirm the aircraft are on the ground at Simon Bolivar outside Caracas.

Venezuelan reporter Javier Mayorca tweeted that the first plane carried Tonkoshkurov, chief of staff of the ground forces, and up to a hundred troops. The second was a cargo plane carrying 35 tonnes of material.

“In the presidential box of the airport, they were met by the head of the department of international relations (the Venezuelan army), Vice-Admiral Marianni Mata, representatives of the Russian embassy and the Venezuelan armed forces,” said Majorca on Twitter.

Russian government-owned news service Sputnik quoted an unnamed source as saying the flights carried officials to “exchange consultations” with Venezuelan authorities.

“Russia has various contracts that are in the process of being fulfilled, contracts of a technical military character,” Sputnik cited a source as saying.

A government supporter holds a poster with a no symbol over an image of US President Donald Trump defaced with devil horns, and a message that reads in Spanish: "Stay out Venezuela Trump". Picture: AP

A government supporter holds a poster with a no symbol over an image of US President Donald Trump defaced with devil horns, and a message that reads in Spanish: “Stay out Venezuela Trump”. Picture: APSource:AP

GAME OF THRONES

Last week, President Maduro said Russia had promised another immediate shipment of humanitarian aid to the country. Some 300 tons of supplies have already been delivered by Moscow in February.

Washington, however, late last week issued new sanctions against Caracas’s oil industry. National Security Adviser John Bolton declared on Twitter: “To those who are helping send the Venezuelan people’s wealth out of the country to benefit Maduro and his cronies, you are on notice today that the United States is watching”.

John Bolton@AmbJohnBolton

To those who are helping send the Venezuelan people’s wealth out of the country to benefit Maduro and his cronies, you are on notice today that the United States is watching.17K8:24 PM – Mar 23, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy8,540 people are talking about this

While the US has sent aid convoys to the Colombia-Venezuela border, they have been blocked by teargas wielding border police. Bolton also sparked international concern in February when he — apparently carelessly — held a notepad out in plain sight to media with the words “5000 troops to the border” during an address on the crisis.

(JE) Venezuela leva Novo Banco a tribunal por bloqueio de contas de 1,5 mil milhões

(JE)L

Quatro entidades públicas venezuelanas avançaram com providências cautelares contra bloqueio de contas. Caso sejam deferidas, banco arrisca perder 5,3% do total dos depósitos em poucos dias.

Quatro entidades públicas venezuelanas avançaram, no início de março, com uma ação judicial contra o Novo Banco devido ao bloqueio de contas com saldos totais de 1,5 mil milhões de euros. Um montante milionário de depósitos  que será levantado de imediato do banco português caso nos próximos dias o tribunal decida favoravelmente as providências cautelares interpostas pelo Banco de Desarrollo Economico y Social (Bandes), Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), PDVSA Services e Petrocedeño.

(BBG) Venezuela’s Oil Capital Ransacked When the Lights Went Out

(BBG) By Andrew Rosati

  •  In Maracaibo, hundreds of businesses were looted in blackout
  •  The pillage shows that anyone’s grip on the nation is tenuous

The sack of Maracaibo was almost over Thursday after a frenzy of violence and looting that showed just how close Venezuela is to total chaos.

In the country’s sweltering oil capital, about 500 businesses — bakeries, tire shops, entire shopping malls — were pillaged during the nationwide power blackout that began March 7. Looting continued even after the lights flickered on as residents overwhelmed the security forces of the Nicolas Maduro regime. Storekeepers are just beginning to clean up as the desperate keep sifting through the rubble.

“If people made enough to make ends meet, we wouldn’t be trying to get by like this,’’ said Enrique Gonzalez, 18, a bus conductor whose driver was scavenging at a Pepsi warehouse. Thousands of bottles had been removed in mere hours, and people were now ripping out copper wire and scrap metal. The hulks of delivery trucks sat on pallets, tires long removed.

“This country has gone to hell.”

Lawless Land

Venezuela’s great blackout threw the crisis-ridden nation into fresh tumult. Maduro has presided over an epic descent, prompting the U.S. and scores of other nations to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the rightful head of state. Maduro has concentrated resources and troops in Caracas, the capital. The ravaging of Maracaibo, population 1.6 million, shows that anyone’s control over the vast nation is tenuous.

Maduro blamed the blackout on a U.S. cyber attack, without supplying proof. Experts blamed decaying infrastructure. In Maracaibo, many transformers and substations burst into flames after power was restored this week and large sections of the city remained in the dark. Long lines of people bearing jugs and barrels formed at leaky water trucks, streams and burst pipes.

On Guajira Avenue, the four-lane main drag where much of the mayhem occurred, there was little security. During a daylong tour of looted malls, warehouses and shopping centers, a single municipal squad car was seen. Officers inside warned profanely that no protection would be forthcoming.

Hot Ice

The unrest began in the Saturday-afternoon heat when an ice company began demanding payment in dollars. A desperate crowd tore through its factory, then emptied nearby pharmacies and shoe stores. By nightfall, the heart of Maracaibo was engulfed as people deprived of life’s necessities took whatever they could get.

Empresas Polar SA, a Venezuelan food giant, said that its Pepsi plant, brewery and pasta factory were almost destroyed; people carried off thousands of cases of beer and soda and 160 pallets of food. The company lost 22 trucks and five forklifts. Holes were punched through cinder-block walls around the soda warehouse.

On Monday, Ferre Mall, a home-improvement shopping center of more than 50 stores, was emptied by people who burst through its iron gates and glass doors. In darkness, they lit scraps for illumination. A paper-goods store caught fire and the blaze spread.

Travel agencies, cosmetic stands and snack shops were mere shells Thursday. The building reeked of smoke and melted asphalt from the roof had hardened on the floor. Workers carried debris over broken porcelain and glass.

No Resistance

“It’s hard to swallow,’’ said Bernardo Morillo, 60, who built and manages the mall. “The national guard stood by as this vandalism happened and the firefighters didn’t even show.’’

Throughout the city, security forces were useless as people took anything of value, including cash machines, door frames, ovens, computers and surveillance cameras, said Ricardo Costa, vice president of the Zulia state chapter of the Fedecamaras business group. The organization has been bitterly opposed to the Maduro regime, which Costa said reserves its strength to quash demonstrators.

“How is it possible that a thousand guardsmen are deployed to repel 50,000 protesters, but when a thousand looters come to a mall only 50 were sent?’’ he said.

“You could say this began because people are hungry, but the looters didn’t take just food — it morphed into aimless vandalism.’’

Fat City

At a Centro 99 supermarket, shelves were picked clean and the floor was carpeted with pieces of pasta, plastic spoons and dried tomato sauce. Manager Luis Parra said 10 of the chain’s 12 locations were looted.

“They even carried off the lard and flour to bake bread in their bare hands,’’ he said.

Maracaibo once was a city of excess. The preferred drink was whiskey and food was fried and plentiful. Sitting on a massive lake that bears its name, Maracaibo was home to big-talking oilmen and ranchers — Houston’s Venezuelan doppelganger.

The nation’s commercial oil production started in the region in the 1910s after locals noticed crude seeping out of the ground. For a century, deposits below Lake Maracaibo ensured that governments were flush. Chevron Corp.Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. fueled a boom of shopping malls, warehouses and supermarkets in the former fishing village.

Dwindling Flow

After two decades of socialist rule, big oil has all but vanished. Zulia’s production has plunged to 325,000 barrels a day in 2018 from 624,000 in 2010, according to the state oil company. Production in Venezuela as a whole fell last year to a 69-year low, according to OPEC data compiled by Bloomberg.

Maracaibo’s new-money glitz now feels like a lifetime ago. Fedecamaras estimated that damage during the blackout could easily surpass $200 million.

Requests to interview Omar Prieto, Zulia’s governor and a member of the ruling socialist party, went unanswered. He told reporters Wednesday that 570 looters were arrested. He also implored businesses to reopen and said more than 200 officers were deployed. “It’s our turn to protect you,’’ he said.

But few police were to be seen Thursday as owners repaired security shutters and sealed entries with cinder blocks and cement.

Standing By

Ovidio Oscano stood in his watchman’s post at a Makro market, the Venezuelan equivalent of Costco, as dozens of people denuded the structure.

“They’ve been at it since Monday,’’ said Oscano, a rail-thin 59-year-old who shrugged rather than intervene. “They’re pulling wires, air conditioners, pipes — they’re literally running off with the roof.’’

When the looters realized they were being photographed, they charged and threw rocks.

“A business can be rebuilt,” said Costa of Fedecamaras. But “everyone knows that working here means working in anarchy, that anything can happen to you at any moment.’’

On Thursday, Yajira Bernier left home to search for provisions for the first time since the lights went out. Vendors at the Los Plataneros market demanded dollars or Colombian pesos, and the butcher shop had only two products: cheese and pig feet. Bernier chose the latter.

“We’re panic buying today,” she said. “We don’t know what will come tomorrow.”

(BBC) Venezuela: US withdraws all staff from Caracas embassy

(BBC)

Image shows the entrance of the embassy of the United States in Caracas
Image captionSecretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that staff would be withdrawn from the Caracas embassy

The US will withdraw all diplomatic staff from Venezuela this week due to the “deteriorating situation” there, the state department has said.

In a tweet, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said having staff in Caracas had “become a constraint on US policy”.

The US ordered all non-essential staff to leave Venezuela in January amid an ongoing diplomatic crisis.

Widespread power cuts and a worsening humanitarian crisis have sparked mass protests.

Amid the crisis, a well-known journalist was detained on Tuesday. Luis Carlos Diaz became the latest journalist targeted by Venezuelan authorities, after he was accused by a radical pro-government TV programme of playing a role in the blackout.

The decision to vacate the embassy came late on Monday and followed critical comments Mr Pompeo made to reporters about Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated in recent months.

On Tuesday, in a statement published on Twitter by Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela’s government gave the remaining US diplomats in the country 72 hours to leave. The US said the “former president” no longer had the authority to order them out.

US President Donald Trump backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president after Mr Guaidó declared himself interim leader on 23 January. Venezuela then broke off diplomatic relations in response.

“Nicolás Maduro promised Venezuelans a better life in a socialist paradise,” Mr Pompeo said on Monday. “He delivered on the socialism part… the paradise part? Not so much.”

But in a televised address, Mr Maduro blamed the continuing power cuts on foreign sabotage. “The United States’ imperialist government ordered this attack,” he said, without offering evidence.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro speaks during a televised address on Monday
Image captionVenezuelan President Nicolás Maduro blamed the US for the ongoing power outage

What’s the latest?

Much of Venezuela has been without power since last Thursday. This has reportedly been caused by problems at the Guri hydroelectric plant in Bolívar state – one of the largest such facilities in Latin America.

Venezuela depends on its vast hydroelectric infrastructure, rather than its oil reserves, for its domestic electricity supply.

But decades of underinvestment have damaged the major dams, and sporadic blackouts are commonplace.

People detained by security forces lie on the street after looting broke out during an ongoing blackout in Caracas, Venezuela
Image captionPeople were detained by security forces after looting broke out during the blackout

The opposition says at least 17 people have reportedly died as a result of the blackout.

Over the weekend, pro-government and opposition groups staged rival demonstrations and there were sporadic clashes with police.

Further protests are expected in the capital on Tuesday.

A woman is detained by security forces after looting broke out
Image captionA woman is detained by police during the power cuts

What’s the background?

President Maduro has accused Mr Guaidó of trying to mount a coup against him with the help of “US imperialists”.

Mr Maduro narrowly won a presidential election in April 2013 after the death of his mentor, President Hugo Chávez. He and was elected to a second term in May 2018 in an election which has been widely described as “neither free nor fair”.

In recent years Venezuela has experienced economic collapse, with severe food shortages and inflation reaching at least 800,000% last year.

The Maduro government is becoming increasingly isolated as more and more countries blame it for the economic crisis, which has prompted more than three million people to leave Venezuela.

(ECO) Francisco Assis demite-se de cargo europeu em protesto

(ECO)

Assis queria falar sobre a Venezuela no Parlamento Europeu, mas alega ter sido impedido pelo grupo parlamentar do qual o PS faz parte.

Francisco Assis demitiu-se do cargo de coordenador da assembleia parlamentar EuroLat, acusando o grupo a que pertencem os eurodeputados do PS de o ter impedido de participar num debate de urgência no Parlamento Europeu convocado para discutir a crise na Venezuela. A notícia foi avançada pelo Observador.Rio afasta Mota Amaral da lista do PSD às europeias Ler Mais

Na carta de demissão, citada pelo mesmo jornal, o eurodeputado socialista explica o motivo que resultou na decisão. “Inexplicavelmente, fui impedido de participar no debate hoje [terça-feira] realizado no Parlamento Europeu, em Estrasburgo, sobre este tema, sem que me tenha sido apresentada uma explicação plausível”, refere Assis, considerando que foi posta em causa a sua “dignidade parlamentar e pessoal”. Para o eurodeputado, “a responsabilidade direta é de quem” não o deixou falar, isto é, a Aliança Progressista dos Socialistas e Democratas (S&D, sigla em inglês), disse em declarações aos jornalistas, citado pela Lusa.

A EuroLat é a Assembleia Parlamentar Euro-Latino-American. Francisco Assis ocupava o cargo de coordenador há dois anos e meio. A carta do eurodeputado do PS foi entregue a Udo Bullmann, presidente do Grupo da Aliança Progressista dos Socialistas e Democratas (S&D).

Confrontado com esta situação, o também eurodeputado socialista Pedro Silva Pereira vincou que “a delegação do PS não tem nenhuma interferência na distribuição dos tempos de intervenção” na sessão plenária, rejeitando responsabilidades da bancada socialista neste caso. “Isso é uma questão entre o deputado Francisco Assis e a direção do grupo parlamentar socialista europeia aqui no Parlamento Europeu”, salientou, afirmando, porém, desconhecer “os termos desse processo” de demissão.

O debate de urgência sobre a Venezuela decorreu na terça-feira à tarde em plenário, sendo que quem interveio pelo PS foi a eurodeputada Ana Gomes. Paulo Rangel (PSD), José Inácio Faria (eleito pelo MPT) e João Pimenta Lopes (CDU) foram os outros eurodeputados portugueses que discursaram.

Gabriel Bastidas@Gbastidas · 20hRespondendo a @Gbastidas

Eurodiputada @charanzova: El apagón de los últimos días confirma que Maduro no es el líder que Venezuela necesita; es un tirano. Es un ejemplo más de lo que sufren los venezolanos. Tenemos que ampliar las sanciones y asegurar que el régimen ceda el poder. #12Mar

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Gabriel Bastidas@Gbastidas

Eurodiputado @PauloRangel_pt: La situación de Venezuela es de emergencia. Con el apagón hemos visto más clara la situación de miseria y de hambre, hay urgencia para tener agua. Es un problema de vida o muerte. Maduro es un homicida. #12Mar pic.twitter.com/eUtgNKIQJM20117:19 – 12 de mar de 2019Informações e privacidade no Twitter Ads

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O debate surgiu numa altura de crise política na Venezuela, que se agravou desde o passado dia 23 de janeiro, quando Juan Guaidó se autoproclamou Presidente da República interino e declarou que assumia os poderes executivos de Nicolás Maduro.