Major European nations are considering imposing sanctions on Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro and several top officials for their recent crackdown on political opponents, although divisions remain over the timing of any action for fear of derailing a negotiated exit to the country’s crisis, The Associated Press has learned. The financial and travel restrictions are being mulled by a core group of five nations — U.K., France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands — before being proposed to the European Council, said diplomats and members of the Venezuelan opposition with knowledge of the plan. A total of five sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the deliberations publicly. While Maduro is among a dozen officials who could be hit with sanctions, no final decision has been made, two people said. The group still needs to breach internal divisions before making a formal proposal to the EU’s executive branch. Greater consensus exists for punishing top members of the armed forces and judiciary who have been instrumental in the arrest of allies of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, including Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, whose family is believed to live in Spain. Also on the list is Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez, a top Maduro aide and envoy to talks with the opposition sponsored by Norway, and Jorge Márquez, who is head of the powerful communications regulator which was responsible for pulling the plug on Spanish broadcaster Antena 3 and Britain’s BBC earlier this year. Steady progress is being made on building
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Saturday he has asked his envoy to the United States to meet with Pentagon officials to “cooperate” on a solution to the South American country’s political crisis.
Guaido, the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, added he had received word from China that the country would join a diplomatic effort between European and Latin American countries, known as the International Contact Group on Venezuela, to negotiate an end to the crisis.
In January, Guaido invoked the OPEC nation’s constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing President Nicolas Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate. He has been recognized by most Western and Latin American countries, but Maduro has retained the support of allies China, Russia and Cuba.
Guaido’s effort to oust Maduro so he can take power and call new elections has stalled in recent weeks, after an attempted military uprising on April 30 was put down. Guaido told an Italian newspaper this week that he would “probably” accept a U.S. military intervention if the United States proposed it.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has harshly rebuked US Vice President Mike Pence for attempting to entice members of the Venezuelan military to turn against the legitimately-elected government in Caracas.
Maduro said on Wednesday that the US vice president’s recent offer of new incentives to Venezuela’s military potential defectors disrespected the “honor” and “dignity” of the country’s armed forces.
“Yesterday, Mike Pence declared that the soldier who betrays the country and goes for the side of the gringos... they will reward him; [that is] a lack of respect for honor, morals, and the dignity of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces,” the Venezuelan president said, using a derogatory term for Americans.
Around May 2017, an unusual request from a prominent Venezuelan general made its way to the White House: Gen. Ivan Hernández, head of both the presidential guard and military counterintelligence, wanted to send his 3-year-old son to Boston for brain surgery and needed visas for his family. After days of internal debate, the still young Trump administration rejected the request, seeing no point in helping a senior member of a socialist government that it viewed as corrupt and thuggish but wasn’t yet prepared to confront. That decision, revealed to The Associated Press by a former U.S. official and another person familiar with the internal discussions, might have gone unnoticed if National Security Adviser John Bolton hadn’t admonished Hernandez this week on live TV as one of three regime insiders who backed out of a plan — allegedly at the last minute — to topple President Nicolás Maduro. It might also have been one of several missed opportunities to curry favor with Venezuela’s normally impenetrable armed forces. The U.S. also rebuffed a back channel to the alleged ringleader of the would-be defectors, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez. Bolton said Hernández, Padrino and Supreme Court Chief Justice Maikel Moreno chose to stick with Maduro at the moment of truth: when opposition leader Juan Guaidó appeared Tuesday on a highway overpass surrounded by a small cadre of armed troops ready for what he said was the “final phase” of a campaign to rescue Venezuela’s democracy known as Operation Freedom. Little is known about
Russia's support for Venezuela's embattled President Nicolas Maduro has become the latest flashpoint in deteriorating relations between the United States and Russia, moving to the top of a list of long-simmering spats between the Cold War foes.
As the dispute intensifies with both sides trading accusations and entrenched in diametrically opposed positions from which they are unwilling to retreat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to meet Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov next week in Finland to discuss the matter.
A senior State Department official said Pompeo would use the opportunity of being at the same meeting of Arctic Council with Lavrov to express U.S. "concerns about Russian behavior." ''That includes Ukraine and certainly Venezuela," said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the meeting publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
For the third time this year, the big moment in Venezuela has turned into a bust. Trump administration officials had expected that Wednesday might turn out to be the beginning of the end for President Nicolas Maduro with senior government figures withdrawing support and the opposition launching a mass uprising with military backing. Or at least that's what the administration had been led to believe.
But the promised defections didn't happen, the military uprising never materialized and Maduro still appeared to be firmly in command of the South American nation. Trump officials were back to complaining about the support Venezuela receives from Cuba and Russia while issuing vague warnings of military action.
"Military action is possible," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview on Fox Business Network. "If that's what's required, that's what the United States will do."