Venezuela

Juan Guaido vs Nicolas Maduro - Venezuela News

Venezuela (Reuters) – Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido’s faltering efforts to oust President Nicolas Maduro are facing a new challenge in the form of an influence-peddling scandal that has left disillusioned Venezuelans wondering if Guaido’s moment has passed. Guaido on Sunday said the opposition-controlled congress would investigate alleged wrongdoing within its ranks after website Armando.info reported that nine opposition lawmakers had advocated for a businessman linked to Maduro’s government. To a dozen Venezuelans interviewed by Reuters around the country, the scandal has marked another blow to Guaido’s reputation and to their hopes of seeing the back of the deeply unpopular Maduro, who has presided over a five-year economic crisis and an expanding authoritarian state. For Mario Silva, an engineer waiting by a bus stop in the crumbling western city of Maracaibo, it was time to move on. “Guaido missed his moment,” the 60-year-old said. When Guaido declared an interim presidency in January in a bold challenge to Maduro, Silva joined millions of Venezuelans in celebrating the arrival of a fresh-faced politician who had united the oft-fractured opposition and was untainted by its previous scandals. Silva had backed the “socialist revolution” led by the late Hugo Chavez and for a while supported his successor, Maduro, until, he said, Venezuela’s worsening poverty and widespread corruption became too obvious to ignore. “I saw Guaido as a salvation for the country, but he, like Chavez, disappointed me,” Silva said. Guaido has been recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. But, despiteContinue reading

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Maj. Gen. Hugo Carvajal, El Pollo, The Chicken, Venezuela, Spymaster

The two intelligence agents scoured the sun-kissed faces of holidaymakers at Madrid’s airport until they spotted the 5½-foot bald man. Traveling under a disguised identity, Hugo Chávez’s long-time spy chief and one of the U.S.’s most wanted drug fugitives had just landed in Spain that Monday morning in March. Nicknamed “El Pollo” (“The Chicken”), retired Maj. Gen. Hugo Carvajal had traveled from the Dominican Republic after breaking ranks with Venezuela’s socialist administration and supporting Juan Guaidó, the U.S.-backed opposition leader. From the Spanish capital he hoped to leverage contacts and knowledge of the Venezuelan deep state to mount a military-backed rebellion against President Nicolás Maduro. Five months later, the former spymaster is in deep trouble. To the frustration of many in the opposition who have secretly tried to flip senior members of Venezuela’s military, Carvajal was arrested days before a failed barracks rebellion on April 30. On Thursday, judges in Madrid will consider whether to extradite him to the U.S. to face federal charges of cocaine trafficking. Carvajal’s fate is being closely followed by others in the Venezuelan security forces looking to defect. If somebody like the former spy, accused of collaborating with terrorist groups and smuggling several tons shipments of drugs into the U.S., could find redemption, there would be hope for others as well. The U.S. has promised senior Venezuelan officials they will be rewarded and see sanctions lifted if they turn decisively against Maduro. The Trump administration’s special envoy on Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, even suggested Spain couldContinue reading

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Venezuela Military Might

In December 2007, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez suffered his first defeat at the polls. Although still wildly popular among the working class that had propelled him to power nearly a decade earlier, voters rejected a referendum that would have enabled him to run for re-election repeatedly. Stung, Chavez turned to a close confidant, according to three former advisors: Fidel Castro. The aging Cuban leader had mentored Chavez years before the Venezuelan became president, when he was still best known for leading a failed coup. Now, deepening economic ties were making Cuba ever more reliant on oil-rich Venezuela, and Castro was eager to help Chavez stay in power, these advisors say. Castro’s advice: Ensure absolute control of the military. Easier said than done. Venezuela’s military had a history of uprisings, sometimes leading to coups of the sort that Chavez, when a lieutenant colonel in the army, had staged in 1992. A decade later, rivals waged a short-lived putsch against Chavez himself. But if Chavez took the right steps, the Cuban instructed, he could hang on as long as Castro himself had, the advisors recalled. Cuba’s military, with Castro’s brother at the helm, controlled everything from security to key sectors of the economy. Within months, the countries drew up two agreements, recently reviewed by Reuters, that gave Cuba deep access to Venezuela’s military – and wide latitude to spy on it and revamp it. The agreements, specifics of which are reported here for the first time, led to the imposing of strict surveillanceContinue reading

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Diosdado Cabello - Venezuela News

The U.S. has made secret contact with Venezuela’s socialist party boss as close allies of President Nicolás Maduro’s inner circle seek guarantees they won’t face prosecution for alleged abuses and crimes if they cede to growing demands to remove him, according to a senior Trump administration official. Diosdado Cabello, who is considered the most-powerful man in Venezuela after Maduro, met last month in Caracas with someone who is in close contact with the Trump administration, the official told The Associated Press. A second meeting is in the works but has not yet taken place. The AP is withholding the intermediary’s name and details of the encounter with Cabello out of concern the person could suffer reprisals. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to discuss the talks, which are still preliminary. It’s not clear whether the talks have Maduro’s approval or not. Cabello, 56, is a major power broker inside Venezuela, who has seen his influence in the government and security forces expand as Maduro’s grip on power has weakened. But he’s also been accused by U.S. officials of being behind massive corruption, drug trafficking and even death threats against a sitting U.S. senator. The administration official said that under no circumstances is the U.S. looking to prop up Cabello or pave the way for him to substitute Maduro. Instead, the goal of the outreach is to ratchet up pressure on the regime by contributing to the knife fight the U.S. believes is taking placeContinue reading

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Juan Guaido vs Nicolas Maduro - Venezuela News

Venezuela’s government late Wednesday halted negotiations with the opposition in protest of the Trump administration’s freezing of its U.S. assets, thrusting into crisis the country’s best chance of peacefully resolving a political standoff that has kept the nation on the edge for more than six months. The decision surprised representatives of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who were already on the Caribbean island of Barbados awaiting what was to be the start Thursday of the sixth round of talks that began in May under the auspices of Norway. “We Venezuelans have watched with profound indignation how the chief of the opposition, Juan Guaidó, celebrates, promotes and supports these harmful actions against our nation’s sovereignty and our peoples’ most basic human rights,” the government said in a statement Wednesday night. The government stopped short of abandoning the talks altogether, saying only that it would “review the mechanisms of this process to ensure its continuation is truly effective and harmonious with the interests of the people.” For weeks, representatives of Maduro and his would-be successor have been shuttling back and forth to Barbados trying to agree on a common path out of the country’s prolonged political standoff. The meetings have been slow-going and shrouded in mystery, with neither side disclosing details. But Maduro’s supporters have accused the U.S. of trying to blow up the fragile process with sweeping new sanctions announced this week that freeze all of the government’s assets in the U.S. and even threaten to punish companies from third countries thatContinue reading

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Maduro- VS Trump - Venezuela - US News Today HEadline

For weeks, representatives of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his would-be successor, opposition leader Juan Guaidó, have been shuttling back and forth to Barbados trying to agree on a common path out of the country’s prolonged political standoff. The meetings have been slow-going and shrouded in mystery, with neither side disclosing details. But now Maduro’s supporters are accusing the U.S. of trying to blow up the fragile process. The purported explosive: sweeping new sanctions that freeze all of the Maduro government’s assets in the U.S. and even threaten to punish companies from third countries that keep doing business with his socialist administration. “They’re trying to dynamite the dialogue,” Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said at a news conference to denounce comments by U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton defending the asset freeze. “But nobody, not even 1,000 Trumps or 500 Boltons … will make us abandon the negotiating table.” Building on its role as a facilitator of Colombia’s peace process, Norway in May managed to overcome deep distrust arising from past failed attempts at dialogue and bring the two sides together in Oslo. Talks have since moved to the Caribbean island of Barbados, where the fifth round wrapped up last week. Neither side has said much about what is being discussed, although speculation has swirled in political and diplomatic circles that Maduro’s envoys have expressed a willingness to call an early presidential election under a revamped electoral board and foreign observation. The U.S. has insisted Maduro must give up power beforeContinue reading

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Maduro - VS Trump - Venezuela - US News Today

“The apparent goal is to give the U.S. the ability to apply the law beyond its borders to allies of Maduro like China, Russia, Cuba, Iran and Turkey,” said Russ Dallen, the Miami-based head of Caracas Capital Markets brokerage. “Should those foreign entities continue doing business with Maduro they can have their U.S. assets seized.”Continue reading

Venezuela Military Might

“We look to the heavens, asking for peace,” Nicolás Maduro said. “All the while our military exercises play out. We plead to God with our missiles pointed.”

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Nicolas Maduro's Son Nicolas 'Nicolasito' Maduro - Venezuela News

The Trump administration turned up the pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday by targeting his son Nicolas “Nicolasito” Maduro with sanctions, the U.S. Treasury Department said. The new sanctions are the latest push in six months of efforts to oust Maduro, whose 2018 re-election has been deemed illegitimate by the United States and most Western nations. Maduro’s son has been involved in propaganda and censorship, has profited from Venezuelan mines, and helped pressure the military to keep humanitarian aid out of the country, the Treasury Department said. “Maduro relies on his son Nicolasito and others close to his authoritarian regime to maintain a stranglehold on the economy and suppress the people of Venezuela,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “Treasury will continue to target complicit relatives of illegitimate regime insiders profiting off of Maduro’s corruption,” said Mnuchin, who is in Osaka, Japan, with President Donald Trump for a G20 summit. The Venezuelan government called the new measures “illegal” and said they had the “dark aim” of trying to directly attack Maduro’s family after the Trump administration’s previous attempts to overthrow the socialist leader had failed. The government “rejects the continued attacks by the Trump administration that seek to undermine, unsuccessfully, the spirit and will of a people determined to take the reins of their own destiny,” it said in a statement. Washington has thrown its support behind opposition leader Juan Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, who invoked the country’s constitution in January to declareContinue reading

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Nicolas Maduro and Military Support

One of the central mysteries of Venezuela’s slow-motion collapse: Why does the military continue to support Nicolas Maduro, the president who has led the once-prosperous South American country into poverty and chaos? The answer, according to people familiar with Venezuela’s military structure, starts with Maduro’s late predecessor, Hugo Chavez, the charismatic caudillo who cemented strongman socialist rule in the nation of about 30 million people. In a series of actions that began in 1999, the former lieutenant colonel and one-time coup leader began taming the military by bloating it, buying it off, politicising it, intimidating the rank and file, and fragmenting the overall command. Once he took office in 2013, Maduro handed key segments of the country’s increasingly ravaged economy to the armed forces. Select military officers took control of the distribution of food and key raw materials. A National Guard general and military deputies now manage the all-important national oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA [PDVSA.UL]. The two leaders also embedded intelligence agents, with the help of Cuba’s security services, within barracks, former officers say, instilling paranoia and defusing most dissent before it happens. Intelligence agents have arrested and jailed scores of perceived troublemakers, including several high-profile officers, even for minor infractions. The overhaul, former military officials say, created a jumbled and partisan chain of command. Top officers, grateful for perks and fearful of retribution, are often more preoccupied with pleasing Socialist Party chiefs than with national defence. Instead of drills and war games, some generals findContinue reading

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