'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.

The Intel Doge@IntelDoge

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. 


The biggest BMW plant is in South Carolina not in the carmaker’s homeland of Bavaria, says German chancellor

Germany’s Merkel demolishes Trump foreign policies

Merkel speaks at 55th Munich Security Conference (Getty)
Merkel speaks at 55th Munich Security Conference (Getty)

Angela Merkel defends Nato allies after criticism from US vice president Mike Pence over Iran deal

Mike Pence and Angela Merkel pose at the conference on Saturday
Mike Pence and Angela Merkel pose at the conference on Saturday ( AFP/Getty )

German chancellor offers strong defence of nuclear agreement and multilateral cooperation –
Kim Sengupta, INDEPENDENT

AIWA! NO!| Rancor and recriminations were the order of the day with allies as well as adversaries turning on each other in one of the most important gatherings of the Munich Security Conference in recent years.

Efforts were supposed to be made, at least among western countries, to find common ground on a range of issues from the Middle East after the end of the Isis caliphate to cyber warfare, Brexit, extremism and climate change.

Instead the US vice president Mike Pence attacked European states for not joining Washington in pulling out of the nuclear deal with Iran and failing to fully follow the American line on the Venezuelan crisis.

Angela Merkel Ruffled at Prospect of More Trump Hardball Tactics, Sources Say

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Angela Merkel rejects Donald Trump's claims that German cars are a threat
BusinessLIVEAngela Merkel rejects Donald Trump’s claims that German cars are a threat

The biggest BMW plant is in South Carolina not in the carmaker’s homeland of Bavaria, says German chancellor

Repeatedly praising Donald Trump for his allegedly “remarkable” and “extraordinary” qualities which have made “America stronger than ever before”, enabling it to “lead on the world stage again”, Mr Pence derided Nato allies.

His speech was greeted with muted cheering, with Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner clapping enthusiastically, but a significant number of those present staying silent and some of his remarks being greeted with whispered mockery.

18 February 2019

The criticism was not just one way.

 Angela Merkel warned of the dangers in American isolationism and staunchly defended multilateral institutions under threat from US policy.

The German chancellor defended the Iran deal, condemning Mr Trump’s decision to withdraw from it, and questioned his decision to pull troops out of Syria and Afghanistan. Ms Merkel also rebuffed US demands that her government scrap a gas deal with Moscow under which a new pipeline, Nord Stream 2, being built under the Baltic, will bring Russian gas directly to Germany.

She highlighted a statement by a US official that German cars were a security threat to America, to show the attitude to trade held by some in Washington. “We are proud of our cars and so we should be … If it is viewed as a security threat to the United States then we are shocked,” said Ms Merkel, adding that many were manufactured in the US and exported to countries like China.

Warning of attacks on international organisations of the type Mr Trump is in the habit of making, Ms Merkel commented: “We cannot just smash it, we need to cooperate … Now that we see pressure on the classic order we are used to, the question now is, ‘Do we fall apart into pieces of a puzzle and think everyone can solve the question best for himself alone?’”.

It would be wiser, she said, “to put yourself in the others’ shoes … and see whether we can get win-win solutions together”.

Germany is among international powers – along with Britain, France, Russia and China – which signed the nuclear agreement with Tehran. All these countries, as well as the UN Atomic Energy Authority, stress that the deal was working in preventing Iran developing a nuclear arsenal and that Tehran was abiding by its obligations.

European countries have organised a payment mechanism under which businesses and banks would, in theory, be able to trade with Iran without incurring American sanctions. Mike Pence said: “The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal and join with us as we bring the economic and diplomatic pressure. The time has come for our European partners to stop undermining US sanctions against this murderous revolutionary regime.”

When Mr Pence went on to accuse Iran of sponsoring terrorism there were some whispered comments among some in the room about Gulf states, which are major purchasers of American arms, funding extremist Islamist groups. There were also sotto voce comments about the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi for which officials close to Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, an American ally close to Mr Kushner, have been blamed.

Mr Pence is part of the largest American delegation ever sent to the Munich conference. It includes senior Democrats like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi who are vocal critics of Mr Trump. Mr Biden is expected to criticise current US policy in a number of fields, including foreign policy, when he speaks at a session.

It was not surprising, in this acrimonious atmosphere, to hear the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov round on the west for a catalogue of alleged wrongdoing past and present, from the “illegal bombing of Serbia” and “organising a coup in Kiev” to the “aggressive” stance being taken by western politicians.

British defence secretary Gavin Williamson, who had attacked Russia in a speech at the conference on Friday for its role in a number of conflicts, got a special mention. “If you listen to some people like the minister of war – sorry the minister of defence – of the United Kingdom then you might get an impression that nobody except Nato has the right to be anywhere,” said Mr Lavrov.

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.

Image result for russia turkey china venezuela

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 European Parliament has voted to recognise Venezuela's acting president Juan Guaido, and urged the European Union to follow suit.

VENEZUELA CRISIS: EU Parliament votes to recognise Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president

Opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president

Opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president

EU parliament recognises Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president

CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|The European Parliament has voted to recognise Venezuela’s acting president Juan Guaido, and urged the European Union to follow suit.

The motion urged Brussels to accept Guaido as “the only legitimate interim president of the country until new free, transparent and credible presidential elections can be called in order to restore democracy.”

It does not change EU policy, but adds to calls for the EU executive and its member states to join the United States, Canada and Brazil in backing Guaido.

Four major European member states have told Maduro to call those elections by the weekend or they will recognise the opposition-backed parliamentary speaker.

The motion urges Brussels accept Guaido as “legitimate interim president of the country until new free, transparent and credible presidential elections can be called in order to restore democracy.”

The text was proposed jointly by the major political groups in the parliament, and backed by a 439 deputies against 104 “no” votes and 88 abstentions.

The vote also came as EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini demanded that Venezuelan authorities loyal to Maduro release detained foreign journalists.