'A city of shadows': fear as Venezuela's crippling blackout enters day four

Washington: Military moves against Maduro in Venezuela

Wall Street Journal
Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro and his wife, Cilia Flores, waving to supporters in Caracas
Wall Street JournalVenezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro and his wife, Cilia Flores, waving to supporters in Caracas

US pulls all staff from Venezuela as Maduro blames blackout on ‘demonic’ Trump plot

SANAA, (AIWA! NO!) – The White House national security adviser John Bolton said in a television interview yesterday night that Venezuelan military soldiers are communicating with members of parliament on how to support the opposition.

“There is a lot of talk going on between members of the Venezuelan parliament and military elements in Venezuela about what can happen and how they can move to support the opposition,” Bolton said in an interview with ABC television.

Bolton’s announcement follows the rally of thousands of Brazilians in Caracas in demonstrations against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and a major power cut that has plunged Caracas and most of the country’s cities into darkness for four days.

Meanwhile, supporters of Maduro took part in demonstrations in support of the president, who accused “imperialism” of causing his country’s crises.

Maduro had said the power failure was caused by an “electronic attack” on the electronic monitoring system at Gori Electric Station, which supplies Venezuela with 80 percent of electricity.

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Venezuela crisis: Putin's new Cold War on America's doorstep?

Venezuela opposition leader says Maduro government is threatening Germany

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido talks to the media after a session of Venezuela's National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela March 6, 2019.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido talks to the media after a session of Venezuela’s National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela March 6, 2019. (Reuters)

Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido said in an interview that the expulsion of the German ambassador by Caracas was a threat against Germany, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Thursday.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido called on Europe to intensify financial sanctions against the government, a day after Caracas expelled the German ambassador for ‘interference’ – AIWA! NO!

Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido said in an interview that the expulsion of the German ambassador by Caracas was a threat against Germany, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Thursday.

“This action represents a threat against Germany,” Guaido was quoted as saying on Thursday.

German ambassador Daniel Kriener was expelled two days after he and diplomats from other embassies welcomed home Guaido at Caracas airport.

Wednesday, March 6

US to revoke more visas of Venezuelans

Vice President Mike Pence said the US will revoke more visas from prominent Venezuelans as it seeks to increase pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to give up power.

Pence told the Latino Coalition that the US will revoke 77 visas held by officials in the Maduro government or their relatives.

He said, “The time has come to liberate Venezuela from Cuba.”

Venezuela expels German ambassador for meddling, detains American journalist

Venezuela’s government expelled the German ambassador while press advocacy groups said an American journalist had been detained.

Ambassador Daniel Kriener was expelled two days after he and diplomats from other embassies welcomed home opposition leader Juan Guaido at the Caracas airport. 

The government declared Kriener persona non grata and gave him 48 hours to leave the country, accusing him of meddling in internal affairs, although it did not give specific details.

Addressing the National Assembly, Guaido said Maduro’s government is the “persona non grata” in Venezuela.

Separately, Venezuela’s National Press Workers Union said on Twitter that American journalist Cody Weddle was arrested at his home on Wednesday by military counterintelligence agents. Espacio Publico, a free speech group, said he had been accused of treachery and that the agents took his computer and equipment.

US to punish foreign entities funding Maduro

The United States will impose sanctions on foreign institutions helping to finance President Maduro, the White House said on Wednesday.

The measure was announced by President Donald Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton.

“The United States is putting foreign financial institutions on notice that they will face sanctions for being involved in facilitating illegitimate transactions that benefit Nicolas Maduro and his corrupt network,” Bolton said in a statement.

Venezuela crisis worsened by sanctions, UN says
Sanctions have worsened Venezuela’s crippling economic and political crisis, the UN human rights chief said.

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.

“Venezuela clearly illustrates the way violations of civil and political rights – including failure to uphold fundamental freedoms, and the independence of key institutions – can accentuate a decline of economic and social rights,” said former Chile president Bachelet. 

Tuesday, March 5

Maduro says he will defeat opposition

Maduro said he would defeat a “crazed minority” determined to destabilise the country in his first public comments since opposition leader Guaido defied him by returning home on Monday.

Maduro, during a ceremony to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the death of his predecessor Hugo Chavez, called on supporters to attend “anti-imperialist” demonstrations on March 9, coinciding with an opposition march announced by Guaido.

Guaido vows to paralyse public sector to squeeze Maduro

Guaido held talks with Venezuela’s public sector unions on Tuesday about staging strikes to help bring down the government.

The strikes would ratchet up pressure on a weakened Maduro by giving several million state employees, a traditional bastion of government support, a chance to demonstrate their frustration with an administration that has overseen Venezuela’s deepest ever economic crisis.

The opposition is also seeking to capitalise on momentum spurred by Guaido’s triumphant return to Venezuela on Monday to press for an end to Maduro’s rule.

Monday, March 4

Guaido returns home, calls for fresh protests

Guaido defied the threat of arrest to return home on Monday, arriving at Caracas international airport where he was met by cheering supporters, television footage showed.

Flag-waving Venezuelans turned out to await the return of opposition leader who embarks on a renewed push against embattled President Maduro.

“We know the risks we face, that’s never stopped us. The regime, the dictatorship must understand,” Guaido told a delirious crowd.

“We’re stronger than ever, let’s carry on in the streets, mobilised,” he said.

Guaido called on people to flood the streets of cities across the country on Saturday [March 9] to protest Maduro’s hold on power.

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Video from the moment Guaidó arrives in Venezuela, crowd cheering him along. 464:36 PM – Mar 4, 201935 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

Earlier, in a video shared on social networks, Guaido warned that if Maduro’s government “tries to kidnap us … it will be one of the last mistakes it makes.”

The self-declared acting president added on Twitter that should he be detained, he has left “clear instructions to our international allies and parliamentary brothers.”

Also on Monday, US warned of “swift response” to any “threats” against Guaido.

Sunday, March 3

‘Mobilise all over the country’ – Guaido

Venezuela’s opposition leader called for mass protests across the country on Monday as he announced his return to the country after a week touring Latin American allies.

“I’m announcing my return to the country. I am calling on the Venezuelan people to mobilise all over the country tomorrow at 11:00 am (1500 GMT),” Guaido said on Twitter.

Guaido, who has been recognised by more than 50 countries as interim president, gave no details of when or how he would return, however.

Russia vows to prevent US military intervention 

Russia will do all possible to prevent a US military intervention in Venezuela, the TASS news agency quoted the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament as saying on Sunday.

“We are very much concerned that the USA could carry out any provocations to shed blood, to find a cause and reasons for an intervention in Venezuela,” Valentina Matvienko told Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez in Moscow. 

“But we will do all in order not to allow this,” said Matvienko, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin.

Saturday, March 2

Guaido to return home after Ecuador visit

Guaido said he would return to Venezuela from Ecuador, where he was meeting with President Lenin Moreno during a tour of Latin American nations to muster support. 

Guaido told reporters that he was calling for new protests on Monday and Tuesday in Venezuela. He did not say when or how he planned to return.

Venezuela’s education system crumbles

Venezuela’s economic crisis has impacted the entire economy, particularly health and education. 

Many schools across the country don’t have food or running water. And with low salaries, it’s becoming increasingly hard to keep teachers employed. 


Dec 3, 2018 RICARDO HAUSMANN Venezuela’s problems will not be solved without regime change. And that could – and should – happen after January 10, when the international community will no longer recognize the legitimacy of Nicolás Maduro's presidency.

Venezuela crisis: Trump, Putin new Geo-political playground ?

A student demonstrates in front of a line of riot police during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's government in San Cristobal, Venezuela, on February 12, 2015. George CASTELLANO/AFP/Getty Images
A student demonstrates in front of a line of riot police during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s government in San Cristobal, Venezuela, on February 12, 2015.
 George CASTELLANO/AFP/Getty Images
Trump, Putin conflicting dealings with Venezuela and why China and Turkey are standing with Maduro as well—in the US’s backyard – Cimson Tazvinzwa, AIWA! NEWS INTERNATIONAL

In a piece ‘Venezuela goes from bad to catastrophe’ published by TIME magazine , June 6, 2016 Ian Bremmer made an alarming new find about the troubled once rich South American country: “.No more coca-cola for Venezuela – there is not enough sugar. Diet coke is still around – until the country runs out of aspartame – but the disappearance from store shelves of an icon of globalization’ was the latest blow for an economy that was fast teetering towards economic abyss.

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Venezuela debt crisis: Russia, China, Turkey provide relief for Venezuela, Wall Street 'vultures'
YouTube//Venezuela debt crisis: Russia, China, Turkey provide relief for Venezuela, Wall Street ‘vultures’

In April of the same year, the country’s largest private company, Empresas Polar SA, which makes 80% of the beer that Venezuelans consume, closed its doors. The government now rations water, so Venezuelans have begun stealing it from tanker trucks and swimming pools.

Electricity is also in short supply, and President Nicolás Maduro has ordered public offices to conserve energy by remaining open just two days a week. An ongoing drought only makes matters worse. About 65% of the country’s electricity is generated by a single hydroelectric dam that’s now in serious trouble. Blackouts, scheduled and otherwise, have become common.

Venezuela crisis is economics on the surface; but it is geopolitics at play as Russia flexes muscle for global outreach

The crisis in Venezuela appears to be shaping up like a Cold War-style confrontation: The Kremlin is throwing its support behind embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, while Washington backs Juan Guaido, the self-proclaimed interim president.

The story at first glance seems to have all the elements of a spy thriller. In recent days, rumors have swirled about Russian mercenaries, massive bullion shipments and murky assassination plots. Maduro has cast himself as a latter-day Fidel Castro in this drama.

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Dieselgasoil.comVenezuela divide: Turkey, Russia, China stand against Washington, its Latin America allies

In an interview with Russia’s state-owned news agency RIA-Novosti, Maduro hinted at a US-backed attempt on his life, saying, “Without a doubt, Donald Trump gave the order to kill me, told the Colombian government, the mafia of Colombia to kill me.”

READ RELATED: Russia Is Now Venezuela’s Only Hope

That sounded like an episode ripped from one of the CIA’s failed plots to kill the Cuban leader. And the crisis carries echoes of the Cuban Missile Crisis: Late last year, Russian bombers capable of delivering nuclear weapons flew to Venezuela, signaling that Russian President Vladimir Putin was willing to play in America’s backyard.

So are we about to watch a Netflix-era remake of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion?

Is Venezuela another arena for proxy conflict between Russia and the United States, much like the way Moscow and Washington back opposing sides in the Syrian civil war?

Certainly, Maduro’s conspiracy theories — and his language about resisting American neocolonialism — are reminiscent of the old contest between the US and the USSR in Latin America. But Russia is not backing his government in Venezuela to spread the ideology of Marxism.

For starters, Moscow sees Venezuela in large part as a business proposition. Russia’s state-controlled oil company Rosneft has been a major backer of Maduro’s government, and Russia and Rosneft have provided billions in loans and lines of credit for cash-strapped Venezuela.

The opposition-controlled legislature, meanwhile, named “diplomatic representatives” to a dozen countries that, like the US, have recognised Guaido as interim president. At the White House, US Vice President Mike Pence met with Guaido’s appointed charge d’affaires in the United States, Carlos Vecchio, to discuss the ongoing crisis. The 35-year-old engineer stormed onto the political stage as a virtual unknown on 3 January, when he was sworn in as the president of the National Assembly, a body that had been largely neutralised by the Supreme Court.

Venezuela’s top court bars self-declared president Guaidó from leaving country

Leader Nicolas Maduro is seeking to neutralise the American-backed opposition chief.

Venezuela Political Crisis

Venezuela’s Juan GuaidóSource: AP/PA Images

AIWA! NO! |AFP|VENEZUELA’S TOP COURT has barred self-declared president Juan Guaidó from leaving the country, freezing his bank accounts yesterday, as leader Nicolas Maduro seeks to neutralise the American-backed opposition chief.

The 35-year-old head of the National Assembly legislature “is prohibited from leaving the country until the end of the (preliminary) investigation” for having “caused harm to peace in the republic,” high court president Maikel Moreno said. 

The move by the court, which is stacked with Maduro loyalists, comes after the US State Department revealed that Guaido – the National Assembly head and self-proclaimed interim president – has been handed control of Venezuela’s US bank accounts.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed off on the order last week, which was then followed on Monday by US sanctions targeting Venezuela’s state oil giant PDVSA, the cash-strapped government’s main source of hard currency.

“This certification will help Venezuela’s legitimate government safeguard those assets for the benefit of the Venezuelan people,” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Guaidó shrugged off Maduro’s efforts to choke his progress as “nothing new”. 

“I’m not dismissing the threats, the persecution at this time, but we’re here, we’re continuing to do our jobs,” he told reporters as he arrived at the National Assembly.

Guaidó, who has been recognised as interim leader by US President Donald Trump, sent a message to the country’s top court on Twitter warning that “the regime is in its final stage.”

“You shouldn’t sacrifice yourselves for the usurper and his gang,” Guaidó added.

‘Serious consequences’

In Washington, Prsident Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton warned of “serious consequences” if any harm comes to the Venezuelan opposition leader.

“Let me reiterate – there will be serious consequences for those who attempt to subvert democracy and harm Guaido,” Bolton tweeted.

US Venezuela

Venezuelan opposition’s new envoy in Washington Carlos Vecchio.Source: Alex Brandon/PA Images

The opposition-controlled legislature, meanwhile, named “diplomatic representatives” to a dozen countries that, like the US, have recognised Guaido as interim president.

At the White House, US Vice President Mike Pence met with Guaido’s appointed charge d’affaires in the United States, Carlos Vecchio, to discuss the ongoing crisis. 

The 35-year-old engineer stormed onto the political stage as a virtual unknown on 3 January, when he was sworn in as the president of the National Assembly, a body that had been largely neutralised by the Supreme Court.

On 23 January, he declared himself the country’s acting president and vowed to lead a transitional government that would hold democratic elections.

To keep up the pressure, he has called two more mass demonstrations against the government this week, and has appealed to the powerful military to change sides, offering amnesty to those who do.

At least 40 people have been killed in clashes with security forces nationwide and at least 850 arrested since 21 January when a brief military rebellion was put down in Caracas, according to the UN human rights office in Geneva.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has not rules out a US military deployment. 

The Lima Group of Latin American countries and Canada, however, is opposed to “military intervention” in Venezuela, Peru’s Foreign Minister Nestor Popolizio said.

Six European nations – Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain – have all said that they will follow suit unless Maduro calls elections by 3 February.