Venezuela in crisis: All previous updates

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Venezuela has plunged into a major political crisis amid a growing row over President Nicolas Maduro’s future as the country’s leader. 

Maduro took office for a second term on January 10 on the basis of what was by many condemned as a fraudulent election last May.

The opposition, alongside Juan Guaido, rejected Maduro’s claim, and on January 23, Guaido self-proclaimed interim president.

The US alongside Canada, and more than 20 other countries have recognised Guaido’s presidential bid. But China, Turkey, Iran, Russia and Cuba stand by Maduro.

Below find all the updates from January 22 to February 19. For the latest developments click here

Tuesday, February 19

Brazil to send aid to Venezuela together with US: spokesman

Brazil will deliver humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan border by February 23 together with the United States at the request of Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó, presidential spokesman General Otavio Rego Barros said on Tuesday.

The distribution of aid from the northern Brazilian city of Boa Vista across the border in trucks driven by Venezuelan citizens will be organized by Guaidó, the spokesman said at a news conference.

Venezuela closed its sea border with Curacao ahead of the aid operation, a military official said.

Cuba denies Trump claim of troops in Venezuela: official

Cuba rejected Tuesday the “despicable” accusation by US President Donald Trump that it has troops in Venezuela defending socialist leader Nicolas Maduro.

On Monday, Trump claimed that Maduro was being “protected by a private army of Cuban soldiers.”

“Let him show the evidence. Our government rejects this slander in the strongest and most categorical terms,” said Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

Venezuela closes maritime border with Dutch Antilles: navy

Venezuelan authorities have closed the maritime border with the Dutch Antilles, a regional navy chief told Reuters on Tuesday.

The closure prevents boats and aircraft from arriving from the islands of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire.

Vice Admiral Quintero Martinez did not give a reason for the closure, though Venezuela’s opposition have said they plan to bring humanitarian aid into the country from Curacao on Saturday, which President Nicolas Maduro’s government has pledged to block.

Pink Floyd’s Waters slams Venezuela border aid concert

Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters slammed an upcoming “Live Aid”-style concert to raise funds for humanitarian aid for Venezuela, calling the event a US-backed effort to tarnish the socialist government.

Billionaire Richard Branson is backing the Friday show in the Colombian border city of Cucuta with a fundraising target of $100m to provide food and medicine for Venezuelans suffering widespread shortages.

“It has nothing to do with humanitarian aid at all,” the 75-year-old Waters said. “It has to do with Richard Branson … having bought the US saying, ‘We have decided to take over Venezuela, for whatever our reasons may be.'”

Venezuelan troops to remain on border: minister

Venezuela’s armed forces will remain stationed along the country’s borders to prevent potential territorial violations, Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino said.

Padrino said Venezuelan officers and soldiers were “obedient and subordinate” to President Nicolas Maduro, who some 50 countries around the world no longer recognise as the legitimate head of state.

Ousting Maduro over ‘our dead bodies’: minister

Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino said on Tuesday the country’s opposition would have to pass over “our dead bodies” to oust President Nicolas Maduro and impose a new government.

“Those that attempt to be president here in Venezuela … will have to pass over our dead bodies,” he said, in comments broadcast on state TV.

Padrino was referring to opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, denouncing Maduro as illegitimate.

Monday, February 18

Maduro defiant after Trump speech

Shortly after a speech by Trump in Miami, during which he pleaded with Venezuela’s armed forces to support Guaido and warned of dire consequences for standing with Maduro, the Venezuelan president accused his US counterpart of trying to give orders to a foreign country’s military.

“Who is the commander of the armed forces, Donald Trump from Miami?” Maduro said on Monday, in comments broadcast by state television.

“Who is the constitutional commander-in-chief? They believe with their arrogance and their contempt for us. They believe they own the country and Donald Trump believes he has the power to give orders and that the National Bolivarian Armed Forces will carry out his orders.

“It is an offence to dignity and to shame.”

Maduro, who has vowed not to let US aid enter Venezuela, also said that 300 tonnes of assistance would soon arrive from Russia. He said Venezuela paid for the Russian goods and is not a country of beggars, lashing out at Trump for thinking he can force in unwanted aid.

“They want to enslave us,” Maduro said. “That’s the truth.”

Trump reiterates all options are possible in Venezuela

Trump on Monday warned members of Venezuela’s military who support President Nicolas Maduro that they are risking their lives and urged them to allow aid into the country.

Speaking to a cheering crowd mostly of Venezuelan and Cuban immigrants, Trump said if the Venezuelan military continues supporting Maduro, “you will find no safe harbour, no easy exit and no way out. You’ll lose everything.”

He said he wanted a peaceful transition of power in Venezuela but that all options remained open.

“I ask every member of the Maduro regime: End this nightmare of poverty, hunger and death. LET YOUR PEOPLE GO. Set your country free! Now is the time for all Venezuelan Patriots to act together, as one united people. Nothing could be better for the future of Venezuela!” he tweeted on Monday.

Government to organise concert on February 23

The Minister of Communication and Information of Venezuela Jorge Rodriguez, announced on Monday the realisation of a “concert for peace,” in the framework of Venezuela’s campaign “Hands off Venezuela,” the website Telesur reported.  

The event will take place at the Simon Bolivar International Bridge, located in the Colombian-Venezuelan border on Friday and Saturday (February 22-23). According to local reports, it will count with the participation of numerous artists “in support of Venezuelan democracy. “

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Minister Rodriguez also announced a day of free medical attention for Colombian and Venezuelan citizens, which will be attended by pediatricians, internists, gastroenterologists and other specialists.

On February 22, billionarie Richard Branson also announced a concert to “rally humanitarian aid for Venezuela.”

According to Branson 300,000 people are expected to attend the concert.

Branson said he has spoken to Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido and hopes the concert will help break Maduro’s blockade so the aid can reach Venezuelans suffering from chronic shortages of food and medicine.

Humanitarian aid for Venezuela is seen at a warehouse at the Tienditas cross-border bridge between Colombia and Venezuela in Cucuta [Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters]

Trump to say Venezuela’s military at risk for supporting Maduro

President Donald Trump will say in a speech on Monday that Venezuela’s military officials should “work toward democracy” or risk losing everything they have.

“The United States knows where military officials and their families have money hidden throughout the world,” the White House said in describing what Trump planned to say.

The White House issued points from a speech Trump was to deliver in the Miami area later in the day, saying the president will say the Venezuelan military should let humanitarian aid into the country.

Sunday, February 17

MEPs invited by Guaido ‘barred from entering Venezuela’

A group of conservative members of the European Parliament say they have been refused entry to Venezuela, where they were invited by Guaido.

“We are being expelled from Venezuela, our passports have been seized, they have not informed us of the reason for the expulsion,” said Spanish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Esteban Gonzalez Pons, who led the group.

The other politicians were his compatriots Jose Ignacio Salafranca and Gabriel Mato Adrover, as well as Esther de Lange of the Netherlands and Paulo Rangel of Portugal.

All are members of the conservative European People’s Party (PPE).

Rubio warns Maduro not to act against opposition

Visiting the Colombia-Venezuela border, US Senator Marco Rubio declined to say if he would support US military action against Venezuela, warning Maduro of severe consuquences is he takes action against the opposition.

“There are certain lines and Maduro knows what they are,” the Republican politician told CNN, saying he was confident that Washington would not stand by if the Venezuelan government harmed or imprisoned Guaido.

“The consequences will be severe and they will be swift.”

Guaido calls for ‘million volunteers’ in aid standoff

Opposition leader Juan Guaido set a goal Sunday of enlisting a million volunteers within a week to confront a government blockade that has kept tons of humanitarian aid, most of it from the United States, from flowing into the country.

Food supplies, hygiene kits and nutritional supplements have been stockpiled near the Venezuelan border in Cucuta, Colombia.

Additional storage centers are supposed to open this week in Brazil and Curacao, a Dutch island off Venezuela’s northern Caribbean coast.

“Our principal task is to reach a million volunteers by February 23,” Guaido said in a message to the 600,000 supporters who have signed up so far for the push to bring aid in.

Police officers escort trucks as they arrive at a warehouse, where international humanitarian aid for Venezuela will be stored  [Carlos Ramirez/Reuters]

Marco Rubio arrives to Cucuta 

US Senator Marco Rubio has arrived at Colombian border town of Cucuta alongside the US ambassador to the Organization of the American States (OAS), Carlos Trujillo, and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart.

The Senator said he was traveling for a first-hand look at the aid operation in the border town. 

The Florida Republican’s visit comes after a second US cargo of humanitarian aid arrived at the Colombian border on Saturday.

More aid will arrive on Sunday, Rubio tweeted after he landed in Colombia. 

Russia’s Gazprombank freezes accounts of PDVSA: Reuters 

Russian lender Gazprombank has decided to freeze the accounts of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and halted transactions with the firm to reduce the risk of the bank falling under US sanctions, a Gazprombank source told Reuters on Sunday.

While many foreign firms have been cutting their exposure to PDVSA since the sanctions were imposed, the fact that a lender closely aligned with the Russian state is following suit is significant because the Kremlin has been among Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s staunchest supporters.

“PDVSA’s accounts are currently frozen. As you’ll understand, operations cannot be carried out,” the source said.

Gazprombank did not reply to a Reuters request for a comment.

Saturday, February 16 

Planes land near border with aid 

The US military airlifted tons of aid to a Colombian town on the Venezuelan border on Saturday as part of an effort meant to undermine socialist President Nicolas Maduro and back his rival to leadership of the South American nation.

Two of three scheduled Air Force C-17 cargo planes that took off from Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida had landed in Cucuta.

“This wasn’t the first, and it won’t be the last,” said USAID Administrator Mark Green, standing on the tarmac in Cucuta at a ceremony to receive the aid. “More is on the way.” 

A second US Air Force plane carrying humanitarian aid for Venezuela taxis after landing at Camilo Daza Airport in Cucuta [Edgard Garrido/Reuters]

Nationwide protests

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Saturday called for nationwide protests next week to support volunteers planning to travel to the border with Colombia to bring in US humanitarian aid.

“Not only will this be happening at the border where the volunteer movement will be, but in cities up and down the country where there will be demonstrations on February 23 for the aid to come in,” Guaido told thousands of supporters at a public gathering.

Translation: “Every day we are closer to February 23rd, the day the #Humanitarian Assistance will enter the country. The whole country calls on the military forces to take the side of the people, to let the #Humanitarian Assistance pass because this is also for them, for their families.”

More aid to arrive in Colombia 

US military transport planes carrying humanitarian aid meant for Venezuelans were set to land in the Colombian border city of Cucuta on Saturday, where food and medicine is being stored amidst uncertainty over how and where aid will be distributed.

The shipment will be the second arrival of large-scale US and international aid for Venezuelans, many of whom have scant access to food and medicine.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, speaks during a meeting with volunteers to coordinate humanitarian aid [Andres Martinez Casares/Reuters]

Friday, February 15

US to deliver 200 tonnes of aid to Venezuelan border: report

The US military will transport some 200 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Colombia to help relieve the crisis in neighboring Venezuela, according to a report citing a US defence official on Friday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement, the official said the aid would be sent in the coming days, most likely aboard a C-17 transport plane.

In a statement, the Pentagon said the US “remains deeply concerned about the crisis in Venezuela that has consequences for the entire region.”

Guaido asks Citibank to freeze gold swap with Maduro

The team of Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido is asking Citibank not to claim gold that was put up as collateral for a loan to the government of President Nicolas Maduro in a swap expiring in March, lawmaker Angel Alvarado said on Friday.

Investment bank and financial services company Citigroup, which owns Citibank, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

US slaps sanctions on five Venezuelan officials close to Maduro

The US Treasury announced on Friday that it was imposing sanctions on five intelligence and security officials close Nicolas Maduro.

“Treasury continues to target officials who have helped the illegitimate Maduro regime repress the Venezuelan people,” a Treasury statement read.

Those sanctioned include: Rafael Enrique Bastardo Mendoza, Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera, Ivan Rafael Hernandez Dala, Manuel Salvador Quevedo Fernandez and Hildemaro Jose Rodriguez Mucura. Quevedo Fernandez is Venezuela’s oil minister.

Maduro says US making ‘mistakes’ in Venezuela

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Venezuela’s Maduro said the US is trying to destabilise his country and that efforts by the US-backed opposition to bring aid into the country are political theatre. 

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Maduro criticised European nations for supporting the possibility of US military intervention in his country citing their support of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

“Was it necessary to intervene militarily in Iraq and divide it and kill millions of its people? I think they also made a mistake when they bombed Libya and killed more than 100,000 civilians. Can these errors be corrected? I also think they have also erred in a destructive policy approach in Syria, and are now making mistakes with Venezuela,” Maduro told Al Jazeera.

China calls for diaglogue in Venezuela crisis

China has called for dialogue in resolving the ongoing political upheaval in Venezuela.

Geng Shuang, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that China, which backs Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, will continue to promote exchanges with Venezuela in various fields.

“Venezuela is an important economic and trade cooperation partner of China in Latin America,” Shuang said. “The two sides have also been in close cooperation on the principles of equality, mutual benefit, common development and commercial rules,” he added.

Thursday, February 14

Maduro invites US special envoy, reveals secret meetings

President Nicolas Maduro has invited a US special envoy to come to Venezuela after revealing in an interview with The Associated Press news agency that his foreign minister recently held secret meetings with the US official in New York.

The second of two meetings took place on February 11, four days after the envoy – Elliott Abrams – said the time for dialogue with Maduro’s government had long passed. 

Even while criticising Trump’s confrontational stance toward his socialist government, Maduro said he holds out hope of meeting him to resolve an impasse over his recognition of Guaido.

Maduro said that while in New York, his foreign minister invited Abrams to come to Venezuela “privately, publicly or secretly.”

“If he wants to meet, just tell me when, where and how and I’ll be there,” Maduro told AP, without providing more details. He said both New York meetings lasted several hours.

There was no immediate comment from Washington.

Maduro said he would not give up power and called the US aid currently sitting on the border with Colombia mere “crumbs” following Washington’s move to freeze billions of dollars in Venezuela’s assets.

He blamed the economic sanctions imposed by the US against Venezuela for the severe food and medicine shortages in his country.

US violating UN charter principles, says Venezuela FM

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza has announced the formation of a group that believes the UN Charter’s commitment to non-interference in another country’s affairs is being violated, particularly in the South American nation.

Arreaza was surrounded by diplomats from 16 countries including Russia, China, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba and Nicaragua.

He told reporters at UN headquarters in New York on Thursday there were many more supporters.

Venezuela official calls US aid a ‘spectacle’

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza says that “the momentum of the coup that the government of the United States was promoting is over – it didn’t happen”.

He told reporters at UN headquarters in New York on Thursday that the US needs to rethink its strategy because “the loyalty of our armed forces has already been proved”.

Arreaza dismissed a February 23 deadline set by self-declared president Juan Guaido to bring badly needed food and medicine into Venezuela, saying the opposition leader doesn’t control a single policeman and “whatever he says is absolutely absurd”.

He said President Nicolas Maduro controls the government and is the only one who can give deadlines. Maduro is blocking the aid, saying that Venezuelans are not beggars and that the move is part of a US-led coup.

Arreaza called the assistance a “spectacle that the US is organising” and denounced US sanctions against Venezuela.

“The US has blocked our economy,” he said. “The cost of this blockade is over $30bn – and they are sending this so-called humanitarian aid for $20m. So what is this? I’m choking you, I’m killing you, and then I’m giving you a cookie? So that’s a show.”

Venezuela prosecutor to probe Guaido appointments

Venezuela’s chief prosecutor says he’s launched an investigation into opposition leader Juan Guaido’s appointment of a transitional board of directors for the state oil company.

Attorney General Tarek William Saab said Thursday in a news conference that Guaido’s appointments are part of an illegal power grab.

Saab says he’s investigating the board members designated to oversee PDVSA and its Houston-based subsidiary Citgo. He calls the appointments by Guaido and the National Assembly a “circus.”
Guaido has also appointed several ambassadors, including a representative to the United States.

Wednesday, February 13

Duque meets Venezuelan opposition envoy 

President Ivan Duque of Colombia met on Wednesday with the Venezuelan opposition’s envy to Washington.

Duque held a meeting with Carlos Vecchio, opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido’s envoy at Blair House, across the street from the White House.

Colombia has said that the Venezuelan crisis, counter narcotics efforts and trade will be the main topics at a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Duque later on Wednesday afternoon.

Translation: #Washington we met with the Ambassador of the legitimate government of Venezuela @carlosvecchio We express our support for the restoration of democracy and [ we will help to] facilitate the supply of humanitarian aid for the Venezuelan brothers #DuqueEnEEUU, President Duque wrote. 

Maduro: Guaido will have to answer before courts 

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro threatened opposition leader Juan Guaido with facing the courts “sooner or later” for violating the constitution by anointing himself legitimate head-of-state, according to an interview published on Wednesday.

Maduro, speaking with Lebanese television channel al-Mayadeen TV, said Guaido was seeking to divide the country and convince the Trump administration to launch a foreign intervention.

“If the American empire dares to touch even one palm leaf in our territory, this will turn into a new Vietnam,” he said.

“This person, who believes that politics is a game and he can violate the constitution and the law, sooner or later will have to answer before the courts,” Maduro said, adding he was “absolutely sure” of this.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro threating opposition leader Guaido with facing the courts [File:Carlos Barria/Reuters] 

US congress won’t support military intervention 

Congress will not support US military intervention in Venezuela despite comments hinting at such involvement by President Donald Trump, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said on Wednesday.

“I do worry about the president’s saber rattling, his hints that US military intervention remains an option. I want to make clear to our witnesses and to anyone else watching: US military intervention is not an option,” US Representative Eliot Engel said at the opening of a hearing on the volatile political situation in the nation.

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Engel also warned about the possible effects on the Venezuelan people of US sanctions on state oil company PDVSA . The United States in January imposed sanctions aimed at limiting President Nicolas Maduro‘s access to oil revenue.

Trump: ‘Terrible mistake in blocking aid’

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that Venezuela’s leftist leader Nicolas Maduro is “making a terrible mistake” by blocking US humanitarian aid.

Trump said it was “sad” that the oil-rich Latin American country is in “turmoil” and said Washington has still not ruled out sending troops to the region.

“We look at all options,” he said. “You’ll see,” he said when asked if thousands of US troops could deploy.

Trump was meeting with Colombian President Ivan Duque at the White House to discuss the crisis in Venezuela.

China denies holding talks with opposition 

Beijing refuted a Wall Street Journal report stating it was in talks with Venezuela’s opposition leader and self-declared interim president in order to protect its investments in the crisis-hit Latin American country. 

“I think that [the journal’s] approach is not constructive nor is it professional,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday. 

“In fact, the report is false and it is fake news,” she said, adding that China sought a “political solution through dialogue and consultation” to Venezuela’s ongoing crisis. 

The Journal had reported on Tuesday that Chinese officials met with representatives of opposition leader Juan Guaido in Washington to discuss Venezuela’s 20-billion-dollar debt to China and the status of joint projects.

Tuesday, February 12

At UN, Venezuela FM says no humanitarian crisis 

Venezuela‘s foreign minister insisted at the United Nations on Tuesday that there is no humanitarian crisis in his country even as he announced plans to step up cooperation with UN agencies to help the economy.

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza met on Monday with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres – their second meeting in a month.

The UN has said it stands ready to ramp up humanitarian aid to Venezuela but requires consent from Maduro’s government.

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Arreaza told a news conference at UN headquarters, that the US has used aid as a political weapon against Venezuela. 

“There isn’t a humanitarian crisis. There is an economy that is subject to a blockade,” he added, arguing that US sanctions were responsible for the economic problems and accusing the US of seeking regime change. 

“A government that is threatening you with use of force, with invasion, with a blockade, that gives orders to other countries for them to block you, do they really want to provide you with humanitarian aid?” said Arreaza. 

Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza displays a copy of the Constitution of Venezuela [Andrew Kelly/Reuters]

Russia’s Lavrov warns US against using force in Venezuela

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned his US counterpart Mike Pompeo against US interference, including “use of force”, in Venezuela.    

“Lavrov has warned against all interference in Venezuela’s domestic affairs including the use of force threatened by Washington and which is in violation of international law,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Guaido seeks to resume diplomatic ties with Israel

Opposition leader Juan Guaido has said he would renew diplomatic ties with Israel.

According to Israel Hayom newspaper, Guaido said in an interview that relations with Israel, which were suspended by late leader Hugo Chavez, are in the process of being stabilised.

He also said he is weighing whether Venezuela’s embassy to Israel should be relocated to Jerusalem.

China holds talks with Venezuela’s opposition: WSJ 

According to a report released by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, China has been holding talks with Venezuela’s political opposition to safeguard its investments in the country.

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Chinese diplomats, concerned over the future of its oil projects in Venezuela and nearly $20bn that Caracas owes Beijing, have held debt negotiations in Washington in recent weeks with representatives of Juan Guaido.

Maduro calls for return of Venezuela’s UK-deposited gold 

President Maduro has called on Britain to return “more than 80 tonnes of gold” reserves deposited in London instead of sending humanitarian aid.

The socialist leader told the BBC, according to a transcript made public Tuesday, that his country may have gold reserves weighing 80 tonnes or more deposited at the Bank of England.

Maduro said the gold is “legally Venezuela’s, it belongs to the Central Bank of Venezuela”.

“They should send a convoy with the dollars they’ve stolen from us,” said Maduro.

“Send a convoy with the 80 tonnes of gold. Let it come, the convoy of money, it’s our money. With that, we could solve our country’s problems.”

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro has called on Britain to return ‘more than 80 tonnes of gold’ [Manaure Quintero/Reuters]

Guaido: Aid will enter on February 23

Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido announced on Tuesday that aid would be brought into the country on February 23, despite opposition from President Maduro.

US aid has been piling up in Colombia at the border with Venezuela but until now the bridge border crossing has been barricaded by the military, under Maduro’s orders.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, attends a rally to commemorate the Day of the Youth [Manaure Quintero/Reuters]

Opposition and government supporters share their views

Translation: Here is the happy youth!

Now ready to march to Plaza Bolivar on the Youth Day, following the example of Jose Felix Ribas, we celebrate with love and above all loyalty the Day of Youth, Pedro Infante (sports minister).

The “Day of the Youth” is a commemoration of the participation of students in a 19th-century independence battle against colonial authorities.

Translation: Francisco de Miranda Avenue, opposition supporters gather near the stage to hear the speech of opposition leaders.

Juan Guaido: “Today the fight that Venezuela is waging is against hunger, against an inefficient health system, [the fight] is for our family to return to our country” (…) The usurper is called Maduro” RCTV (news media outlet).

Translation: Youth is the Golden Generation of [today’s] Homeland that builds the future of the Revolution along with President @NicolasMaduro, the government’s Customs Administration Service wrote.

Translation: Marches against the regime and Maduro in support of humanitarian aid, a supporter writes. 

Nicolas Maduro: ‘We will defend the homeland’ 

President Maduro called for a march on Tuesday to denounce foreign intervention in Venezuela’s affairs.

According to Telesure, a media network, his supporters will go from Plaza Morelos to Plaza Bolivar in Caracas to commemorate the Day of the Youth, and to support of the “Bolivarian Revolution” and Maduro. 

“We will defend the Homeland of the imperial pretensions of violating our sovereignty, Happy Youth Day!”  Maduro said this morning in a speech addressing supporters.

Translation: Venezuelans are massively concentrated in Plaza Morelos, Caracas, in defence of #Venezuela’s peace and in commemoration of the Youth Day.

Translation: The patriotic youth is in the front line, as 205 years ago in La Victoria. Today, together with the spirit of Jose Felix Ribas, we will defend the Homeland from the imperial pretensions of violating our sovereignty. Happy Youth Day!

Venezuela opposition: ‘Let aid in’ 

Venezuela’s opposition supporters will take to the streets nationwide on Tuesday to keep the heat on an embattled Nicolas Maduro and to demand he allow humanitarian aid into the country where food and medicine shortages are rife.

The rallies will take place nearly three weeks from the day that opposition leader Juan Guaido invoked a constitutional provision to declare himself Venezuela’s legitimate president, arguing that Maduro’s re-election last year was a sham.

The 35-year-old Guaido is coordinating Western relief efforts, while Maduro, who denies there is a crisis, is blocking supplies from coming in.

“We will return to the streets … to demand the entry of humanitarian aid that will save the lives of more than 300,000 Venezuelans that today are at risk of dying,” Guaido said on Twitter late Monday. “This is a time to unite and fight!”

Opposition supporters at the rally said they are eager to see a change in the country.

“Finally we see a light at the end of the tunnel, I believe that none of the students here has had the facility  to study, it has been difficult for everyone, it is a way of manifesting the discontent that we currently live.” Elena Davila, a 21-year-old student, told Al Jazeera.

Maduro denounced attempts to deliver aid as a US-orchestrated show to undermine and overthrow his government. US supplies were among the first delivered to a collection point established in the Colombian border town of Cucuta.

“The Ku Klux Klan governing the White House today wants to take possession of Venezuela,” Maduro said in an interview with the BBC.

“Venezuela is not a country of famine. In the west, Venezuela’s situation is distorted to justify any sort of intervention,” he said.

Guaido has vowed that the opposition, which he has regalvanised after several years of infighting, will keep protesting to pressure Maduro to step down so new presidential elections can be held.

Translation: This is the road 19 with street 9, in front of the UCLA in Barquisimeto, in the protests convened by Juan Guaido, on the Day of the Youth, Elimpulso (Venezuelan media outlet). 

The opposition will also hold an all-night vigil on Tuesday in a Caracas square to demand that Maduro let aid in.

With additional reporting by Alicia Hernandez in Caracas.

Opposition supporters take part in a rally to commemorate the Day of the Youth and to protest against President Maduro’s government [Manaure Quintero/Reuters]

 

Monday, February 11 

Russia: Venezuela hasn’t asked for military assistance

A senior Russian diplomat says Venezuela hasn’t asked Russia for military assistance amid the South American country’s political crisis.

Alexander Shchetinin, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Latin America department, said on Monday that Moscow hasn’t received any such request from Caracas, according to Russian news reports.

Shchetinin strongly warned the US against calling on the Venezuelan military to drop support for President Maduro, saying it represented an “unthinkable meddling into foreign affairs of a sovereign nation”.

Maduro seeks OPEC help against US sanctions: Report

Nicolas Maduro has sought OPEC support against US sanctions imposed on his country’s oil industry, citing their impact on oil prices and potential risks for other members of the producer group, Reuters reported on Monday.

The request was made in a letter sent to OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo dated January 29 and seen by Reuters.

“Our country hopes to receive the solidarity and full support of the member countries of OPEC and its ministerial Conference, in the fight we are currently having against the illegal and arbitrary intrusion of the United States in the internal affairs of Venezuela,” Maduro wrote.

Venezuelan opposition envoy says Brazil will send aid to border

Venezuelan opposition representative Maria Teresa Belandria was received as her country’s official ambassador in Brazil on Monday, and said Brazil’s government will provide all possible support to get humanitarian aid to the border.

Belandria told reporters several Brazilian government agencies will be involved in the aid operation, which would open up a second route for food and medicine to enter Venezuela after the main one in Colombia.

The aid to be sent to the Brazilian state of Roraima, bordering Venezuela, would not only come from the US, but also from Brazil’s government, private companies and other nations, she said.

Asked whether the Venezuelan military will allow the aid into the country, Lester Toledo, coordinator for international humanitarian aid and an opposition state legislator, replied: “The soldiers know this is food that will go to the children.”

Sunday, February 10

US, Russia present rival UN draft resolutions on Venezuela

The US has presented a draft resolution on  Venezuela  calling for international aid deliveries and presidential elections to the  United Nations Security Council.

The resolution also expresses “full support for the National Assembly as the only democratically elected institution in Venezuela”, according to a copy of the text obtained by the AFP news agency.

The US move triggered a Russian counterproposal, which contains language expressing concern for Venezuela’s territorial integrity and political independence.

Russia’s draft resolution criticises any “attempts to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of Venezuela”.

Read more here.

Doctors demand humanitarian aid be allowed into Venezuela

Venezuelan doctors have called on their nation’s military to allow humanitarian aid into the country, the AP news agency reported.

About two dozen doctors held a protest on Sunday in neighbouring Colombia, in front of the entrance to a bridge that has been blocked by the Venezuelan military.

Aid including food and emergency medical supplies provided by the US is sitting in a storage facility near the bridge.

Venezuela’s opposition is pledging to get the assistance into the country but President Nicolas Maduro has vowed not to accept it.

Maduro contends the aid delivery is part of a larger US intervention to remove him from power.

Venezuela moves to replace US executives on Citgo board

Venezuela‘s state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) is taking steps to remove at least two American board members of its  US‘s refining subsidiary, Citgo Petroleum Corp, the Reuters news agency reported, citing people close to the matter.

Citgo is facing unprecedented challenges to its finances and management after the US government last week imposed tough sanctions on PDVSA designed to prevent oil revenue from going to leftist President Nicolas Maduro.

The US and dozens of other nations have refused to recognise Maduro, viewing his re-election last year to another six-year term as fraudulent.

Venezuelan’s self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido is setting up bank accounts with US help that would take income accrued by Citgo, Venezuela’s top foreign asset, to finance an interim government, Reuters reported.

Read more here.

Saturday, February 9

China calls for peaceful talks 

Venezuela should resolve its own matters itself via peaceful talks and China supports the international community’s efforts in this regard, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

About 20 European Union nations have aligned with the US in recognising Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president and pressuring socialist President Nicolas Maduro to call a new election.

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Offering a counterpoint to Washington’s hardline stance, the EU and a group of Latin American governments that have kept a moderate line on Venezuela called for dialogue and fresh elections.

The EU-backed International Contact Group on Venezuela in its inaugural meeting in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo this week said overly forceful intervention could aggravate the crisis.

Responding to that meeting, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement late on Friday that China supported the efforts of the international community on the peaceful settlement of the Venezuela issue and hoped all parties would continue to play a constructive role.

“Venezuela’s affairs should be resolved by its people within the framework of the constitution and the law through peaceful dialogue and political channels,” the ministry said.

“Only this way can Venezuela realising lasting stability.”

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro attends a gathering in support of his government in Caracas [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Friday, February 8

Volunteers ready US emergency aid 

US humanitarian aid destined for Venezuela was being prepared at a warehouse on the Colombian border on Friday, as opposition leader Juan Guaido assured his countrymen that supplies would reach them despite objections from embattled President Nicolas Maduro.

Workers organise humanitarian aid for Venezuela [Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters]
The goods, including packaged corn, flour, lentils and cans of tuna, arrived a day earlier at the Colombian border city of Cucuta [Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters]
Volunteers were busily filling white sacks with the items from boxes marked with the words ‘USAID’ [Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters]
Plates of food are seen at a community kitchen set-up by USAID and World Food Programme [Marco Bello/Reuters] 

Maduro vows to block ‘fake’ aid ‘spectacle’

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the US-backed humanitarian aid being stockpiled in the Colombian border city of Cucuta for his country should be distributed to poor Colombians as Venezuelans are not “beggars”.

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The day after trucks carrying medicine and food arrived in Cucuta, Maduro, who has become increasingly isolated internationally, told a news conference that Venezuela did not need the aid that includes supplies provided by the US.

“Venezuela won’t allow the spectacle of fake humanitarian aid because we’re no-one’s beggars,” Maduro said.

“Venezuela is not suffering the humanitarian crisis fabricated by Washington over the last four years to justify intervening in our country.”

He blamed the shortage of food and medicine on US sanctions, which mostly target regime individuals as well as state oil company PDVSA.

“Liberate the money that has been blocked and sequestered,” said Maduro. “This is a macabre game: we squeeze them by the neck and make them ask for crumbs.”

He said the aid offer was “a message of humiliation for the people.”

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro gestures during a news conference at Miraflores Palace [Andres Martinez Casares/Reuters]

At least 14 children die in Venezuelan hospital

A hospital in Venezuela has said 14 children have died this week following an outbreak of amoebiasis, a form of dysentery transmitted by contaminated food or water.

Dozens of other children infected by the disease can not receive adequate treatment due to a lack of medical supplies, employees at the Luis Razetti hospital in the coastal city of Barcelona told Al Jazeera on Thursday.

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The staff at the hospital, located 300km east of Caracas, granted Al Jazeera access to the wards because they said they wanted the world to see that they are unequipped to save children’s lives.

Marleea Marino lost her two-month-old baby this week as a result of the outbreak, but his body remains in the hospital because she has not been able to get the money needed to buy a coffin.

“There is nothing here, they have no medicine, they don’t have food,” she said. “And now my son is dead.”

Read more here.

Protesters welcome aid convoy’s arrival at Colombia border

Demonstrators at the Colombian-Venuzelan border welcomed an aid convoy carrying food and medicine from the US by blowing horns and chanting slogans calling for a change in crisis-hit Venezuela.

Venezuela has rejected the aid delivery, which was organised by the US and Venezuelan opposition leaders, barricading its own side of the border and vowing not to allow entry.

At Tienditas bridge, Luigi Rivas, a 31-year-old Venezuelan migrant, brandished a cardboard sign reading “humanitarian aid now”.

“It is a cowardly action he’s made,” Rivas told Al Jazeera, referring to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s bridge closure.

Read more here.

US imposing travel ban on some Maduro allies: US envoy

The Trump administration is imposing a ban on travel to the US for members of Venezuela’s constituent assembly, a body controlled by President Nicolas Maduro and denounced by the opposition as illegitimate, a senior US official said on Thursday.

Elliott Abrams, Washington’s special envoy on Venezuela, said the time for dialogue with Maduro “has long passed”, except to negotiate his departure, and reinforced US backing for opposition leader Juan Guaido, who swore himself in as interim president last month and earned recognition from the US and a number of other countries.

Trucks carrying aid arrives in Colombian border city

The first trucks carrying humanitarian aid meant to cross the border into Venezuela arrived in the Colombian border city of Cucuta on Thursday, where officials were to await instructions on how to distribute the food and medicine.

Escorted by police motorcycles, the trucks pulled into the northern city, where desperate Venezuelans were waiting to see whether President Nicolas Maduro’s government would clear the border road he has blocked and allow the humanitarian shipments to pass.

Wednesday, February 6

Guaido appeals to Italy’s leaders

Opposition leader Guaido asks Italy’s ruling coalition to meet with representatives as he seeks their explicit backing as interim president.

Far-right Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini has criticised Maduro as “a criminal” and “an outlaw”. 

But prominent members of coalition partner Five Star Movement, such as Alessandro Di Battista, have expressed hesitancy over recognising Guaido. 

Maduro gov’t ‘unable’ to move money in EU:

Maduro’s administration has also not been able to move money between its accounts in banks in the European Union since Monday, opposition legislator Carlos Paparoni said.

Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request to comment, reported Reuters.

Tuesday, February 5:

US sends aid to Colombia; Maduro rejects help

The US has sent food and medicine to Colombia‘s border with Venezuela, US officials said on Tuesday. It is still unclear, however, how the aid will get past the objections of President Nicolas Maduro, who has blocked shipments in the past.

Two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said the aid will be staged at the main Colombian-Venezuelan border crossing at Cucuta. One official said more supplies would be staged in Brazil and in the Caribbean.

“I anticipate having perhaps a dozen locations all around Venezuela where such aid will be staged,” the official said.

The US officials said trucks carrying the aid, including high-protein foods, would arrive in Cucuta this week at the request of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who last month declared himself to be the South American nation’s interim president.

Mexico FM says ‘not defending’ Maduro

Mexico’s government said it is not defending Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro after European nations, the US and others recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as the South American country’s legitimate head of state.

“We don’t defend Maduro or his regime, nor are we taking a political position, we want there to be dialogue,” Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said in an interview with local television. “We’re not taking sides, everyone can have their point of view.”

Major European countries on Monday joined most members of the Lima Group, including Argentina, Brazil and Canada, supporting Guaido as interim Venezuelan leader and calling for free elections.

Monday, February 4

UN won’t be part of any initiative dealing with Venezuela crisis 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he has been in contact with supporters of the rival initiatives to deal with the Venezuela crisis and has decided the United Nations won’t be part of any of them.

He told reporters on Monday that he took the decision “in order to give credibility to our continued offer of good offices to the parties to be able at their request to help find a political solution”. 

Guterres said he has been following the evolution of the situation in Venezuela with “a lot of concern”.

The presidents of Mexico and Uruguay have offered to negotiate between socialist President Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido. But Guaido rejected the offer.

Lima group reaffirms support for Guaido 

A coalition of Western Hemisphere nations is urging Venezuela’s military to allow badly needed food and medicine to enter the country as the bloc pushes for a peaceful transition of power in the South American nation.

The call came Monday from the Lima Group, made up of nearly a dozen conservative Latin American countries and Canada. It has led the push to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader and seeks ways to remove President Maduro.

The coalition met on Monday in Ottawa, Canada and issued a declaration saying Venezuela’s soldiers must show loyalty to Guaido. The group also said the United Nations and the international community should be ready to step in with humanitarian assistance for Venezuela.

Further, the bloc dismissed the idea of opening negotiations with Maduro, who has used past talks as a stalling tactic.

Guaido calls for aid conference on Venezuela

Guaido says the opposition will hold an international conference to seek emergency humanitarian assistance at the headquarters of the Organization of American States in Washington, DC. 

Carlos Vecchio was recently designated as ambassador to Washington by Guaido. 

Dozens of countries have now recognized Guaido as interim president, but many others back Maduro, who holds practical power in the country.

Maduro rejects European demands, US aid

President Nicolas Maduro is again rejecting moves by at least eight European nations recognising opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president.

Germany, the UK and France are among the nations that announced support for Guaido on Monday. The EU nations say Maduro’s election was fraudulent and that he ignored their deadline to announce a new round of democratic presidential elections.

Maduro was especially harsh on Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, a fellow socialist. Maduro said Sanchez would have “blood on his hands” if a coup is carried out against him.

In a live address on state television, Maduro said he refuses ultimatums from any country and rejects a US-backed effort to send emergency food and medicine into his country, saying Venezuela isn’t a nation of beggars.

Guaido claims Maduro government trying to move funds to Uruguay

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Monday the government of President Nicolas Maduro was trying to move up to $1.2bn from state development bank Bandes to a financial entity in Uruguay, though he did not present evidence.

Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

Guaido, in a televised speech, called on the Uruguayan government to not allow the operation, which he denounced as the “theft of public funds.”

EU leader pushes Italy for unity on Venezuela

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani is pressing Italy’s populist government to side with other EU countries on Venezuela.

He told reporters Monday in Rome that Italy’s coalition government should heed the words of Italian President Sergio Mattarella, who earlier in the day urged Italy to adopt a shared position with EU partners and allies.

At least 12 EU countries have recognised Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president, rejected the legitimacy of socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

Italy’s squabbling government coalition hasn’t joined them, calling instead for reconciliation and new and free elections in Venezuela.

Tajani slammed the Italian government position as “very grave” and urged it to follow Mattarella’s “very clear’ message for EU unity on Venezuela’s political crisis.

Canada announces $53m in aid to Venezuelans 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will give $53m in humanitarian aid for Venezuelans who he says are living under a “dictatorship willing to use force and fear” to maintain its power.

He says the money will go to “trusted partners in neighbouring countries to help them support Venezuela and Venezuelans”.

The announcement came during a meeting in Ottawa of the Lima Group that includes countries from the Americas that oppose socialist President Nicolas Maduro and recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate interim leader.

Two dozen foreign affairs ministers, ambassadors and other officials from the Americas and Europe were taking part.

Italy blocks EU statement on recognising Venezuela’s Guaido: report

Italy on Monday blocked a European Union statement saying that the bloc’s member states would recognise Venezuela’s National Assembly head Juan Guaido as interim president, diplomatic sources told Reuters news agency.

That came after days of sparring between the 28 EU states on how to address the situation in Venezuela. Eight EU countries on Monday recognised Guaido, but Italy’s opposition has prevented a unified EU stance.

UK looking at Venezuela sanctions, says Maduro must go

Britain is looking at options including sanctions to bring about peace and democracy in Venezuela, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said on Monday.

“Venezuelan people deserve a better future, they have suffered enough and the Maduro regime must end. It is time for free and fair elections,” the spokesman told reporters.

“We are looking at what further steps we can take to ensure peace and democracy in Venezuela including through sanctions.” 

Russia slams European ‘interference’ in Venezuela

Russia has criticised what it said were attempts to interfere in Venezuela’s domestic affairs after major European countries recognised Juan Guaido as the South American country’s interim leader.

“Attempts to legitimise usurped power” constituted “interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday.

Such interference, he added, could not facilitate the “peaceful, effective and lasting settlement of the crisis the Venezuelans are going through”.

Peskov reiterated Moscow’s position that only the people of Venezuela could solve the crisis “which they should get through on their own”.

European nations back Guaido as Venezuela’s interim leader, call for elections

France, Germany, Austria, Sweden and Denmark have joined Britain and Spain in recognising Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president of the South American country.

The coordinated move from the major European nations came after the expiry of an eight-day deadline they set last weekend for President Nicolas Maduro to call a new presidential vote.

In a Twitter post on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said his country recognises Guaido as an “acting president to implement an electoral process”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, during a visit to Japan, said Guaido, who heads the opposition-led National Assembly, “is the legitimate interim president”.

Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s chancellor, also tweeted that Guaido can rely on Austria’s “full support in his efforts to re-establish democracy in Venezuela”.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom told Swedish radio that Stockholm supports and considers Guaido as “a legitimate and interim president” given Maduro’s refusal to hold a snap election.

“Denmark recognises the President of the National Assembly … until new free and democratic elections take place,” Anders Samuelsen, the country’s foreign minister, tweeted ahead of a meeting with EU counterparts in Brussels.

Netherlands, Latvia and Lithuania also threw their support behind Guaido. 

Spain, UK recognise Guaido as acting president

Spain and the United Kingdom have recognised Juan Guaido as acting leader of Venezuela after President Nicolas Maduro rejected an ultimatum by European countries to call snap elections.

“The Spanish government announces that it officially recognises Venezuela’s National Assembly president, Mr Guaido Marquez, as acting president of Venezuela,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told reporters on Monday, calling on Guaido to hold a new presidential election quickly.

Jeremy Hunt, Britain’s foreign secretary, said the UK backs Guaido as “interim constitutional president until credible elections can be held”.

In a Twitter post on Monday, Hunt said he hoped the move will help end Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis.

Spain, France, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal and Austria have said if Maduro does not call snap elections they will recognise Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president.

The eight-day deadline ran out on Sunday.

France also responded to Maduro’s refusal to hold elections, with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian telling radio France Inter that Paris will “now take all necessary” measures.

He did not elaborate.

Sunday, February 3:

Canada’s Trudeau speaks with Guaido, praises ‘courage and leadership’

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has held a phone conversation with Guaido, praising his “courage and leadership”, according to a statement.

The conversation a day before a meeting of the 14-nation Lima Group – made up of Canada and Latin American countries – in Ottawa. Eleven of its members, including Canada, have recognised Guaido.

“The two leaders discussed the importance of the international community sending a clear message regarding the illegitimacy of the Maduro regime and the need to respect the Venezuelan Constitution,” a readout of the call from Trudeau’s office said.

“Both underscored the importance that free and fair Presidential elections be held. The Prime Minister commended Juan Guaido for his courage and leadership in helping to return democracy to Venezuela and offered Canada’s continued support.”

Trudeau added that the Lima Group meeting “will consider how the international community can further support the people of Venezuela, including through immediate humanitarian assistance”.

Maduro rejects European ultimatum to call vote

In an interview with Spanish television station Sexta, Maduro has rejected a call by European countries to organise elections following Guaido’s move to declare himself as interim president.

Maduro said he would not “cave in to pressure” by those calling for his departure.

“They are trying to corner us with ultimatums to force us into an extreme situation of confrontation,” Maduro said.

Spain, France, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal and Austria have said if Maduro does not call snap elections they will recognise Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president.

Russia’s FM: Help Venezuela, but don’t meddle 

Russia’s foreign ministry said the international community should focus on helping to solve Venezuela’s economic and social problems and refrain from any “destructive” interference, Interfax news agency reported.

“The international community’s goal should be to help (Venezuela solve socio-economic problems), without destructive meddling from beyond its borders,” Alexander Shchetinin, head of the ministry’s Latin American department, was cited by Interfax as saying.

Trump: Sending military ‘an option’

President Donald Trump said that sending the military to Venezuela was “an option” and that he had turned down President Nicolas Maduro’s request for a meeting.

“Certainly it’s something that’s on the – it’s an option,” Trump said in an interview broadcast on Sunday on the CBS “Face the Nation” programme. “Well [Nicolas Maduro] has requested a meeting and I have turned it down because we’re very far along in the process.”

A man wearing a mask of US President Trump attends a rally against the government in Caracas [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

‘International contact group’ 

European and Latin American countries that form an “international contact group” hoping to end Venezuela’s political crisis will hold their first meeting in Montevideo on Thursday, the joint hosts announced Sunday.

The meeting will be at the ministerial level, said a statement from EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini and Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez.

“The IGC aims at contributing to create conditions for a political and peaceful process to emerge, enabling Venezuelans to determine their own future, through the holding of free, transparent and credible elections, in line with the country’s Constitution,” said the statement.

The contact group comprises the EU and eight of its member states – France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom – and four Latin American countries: Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Uruguay.

France to recognise Guaido if Maduro does not call vote on Sunday

France will recognise Guaido as interim president if Maduro does not announce a presidential vote by Sunday night, France’s European affairs minister said.

“If by tonight, (President) Maduro does not commit to organising presidential elections, then France will consider Juan Guaido as legitimate to organise them in his place and we will consider him as the interim president until legitimate elections in Venezuela (take place),” Nathalie Loiseau told LCI television on Sunday.

She dismissed Maduro’s proposal of an early parliamentary election as a “farce”.

Saturday, February 2:

US calls on Venezuela’s army to join Guaido camp

A top White House official on Saturday called on Venezuela’s military to follow the lead of a general who sided with opposition leader Juan Guaido against President Nicolas Maduro.

“The US calls on all military members to follow General Yanez’s lead, and to protect the peaceful protestors supporting democracy,” National Security Advisor John Bolton said in a tweet.

Earlier on Saturday, General Yanez, high-ranking Venezuelan air force official, withdrew his support of Maduro, claiming that 90 percent of the military is no longer supporting the president.

Maduro defiant after military defections; proposes new parliamentary elections

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has remained defiant following the defections of at least two military officials while declaring his support for fresh parliamentary elections.

In a speech to tens of thousands of supporters on Saturday, Maduro declared that he supports the National Assembly’s proposal, saying, “Let’s go for elections”.

Elections for the opposition-controlled National Assembly are not supposed to take place again until 2020.

In the same speech, the president denounced the interventionist policy of the US and the administration of President Donald Trump.

“A wave of global consciousness is rising in the face of daily threats against the White House warmongers,” Maduro said.

Maduro and opposition leader, Juan Guaido are holding competing rallies in capital Caracas on Saturday, as they tried to rally support on their side.

Earlier on Saturday, a high-ranking Venezuelan air force official, General Francisco Yanez, withdrew his support of Maduro and recognised Guaido as interim head-of-state.

Later in the day, another military officer in active service, Lieutenant Colonel Andres Eloy Volcan, also declared his support of Guaido and urged other military officers to follow him and “restore democracy.

But Maduro dismissed the call saying, “The Bolivarian armed forces are more loyal than ever under my command.”

He insisted that he was the rightful president of Venezuela and that he would continue to govern.

Guaido: Humanitarian aid to enter through Colombia, Brazil

Guaido and Maduro are holding competing rallies in the capital, Caracas, on Saturday. [Adriana Loureiro/Reuters]

Opposition leader, Juan Guaido, who declared himself as the country’s president, has announced that humanitarian aid for Venezuela will enter through Colombia, Brazil and a Caribbean island.

Guaido made the statement on Saturday, as he addressed an anti-government rally in the capital, Caracas.

In his speech, he also urged the military to side with the Constitution and called on them not to target the demonstrators.

Guaido, the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, has declared himself interim president of Venezuela. [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]

Guaido also said that the month of February could prove to be the “determining point” of Venezuela’s freedom.

Reports say more than 100,000 Venezuelans attended Guaido’s rally.

Army colonel recognises Guaido as president

Another military officer has defected from the government of President Nicolas Maduro and recognised opposition leader, Juan Guaido, as president.

Andres Eloy Volcan, an active lieutenant colonel of the armed forces, urged his fellow military officers to follow him and “restore democracy.

Volcan made the statement during an appearance in Aragua, just outside of the capital, Caracas. A video of the statement was posted on social media.

Demonstrators in Caracas call on Maduro to step down

Demonstrators have taken to the streets of Caracas to renew their call for President Nicolas Maduro to resign. 

Luisa Blanco, 51, a resident of a Caracas suburb, told Al Jazeera on Saturday that she can “smell the hope” that Maduro would resign.

“Maduro needs to leave. We cannot go on with so much misery. We are going to die of hunger,” she said.

In Chacaito, one of the starting points of the demonstration in the Venezuela capital, Yurvis Urdaneta, 28, said he likes opposition leader Juan Guaido.

“He seems to be a nice young man. I think he wants to do it right. But we have also been wrong in the past, and we have been tricked before. So I don’t know wha is going to happen.”

There are also demonstrations in other parts of the country, including the major cities of Maracaibo and Barquisimeto.

Venezuelan general recognises opposition leader Guaido as president: Twitter video

A high-ranking Venezuelan air force general said he had disavowed President Nicolas Maduro and now recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim head-of-state, according to a video circulating on Twitter on Saturday.

In the video, General Francisco Yanez, a member of the air force’s high command, called on other members of the military to defect. He also reportedly claimed that 90 percent of the armed forces no longer support Maduro.

The high command’s web page lists Yanez, along with a photo, as the air force’s head of strategic planning.

On its Twitter account, the high command of the military accused the general of treason.

Yanez is the first active Venezuelan general to recognise Guaido since he proclaimed himself president on Jan. 23.

Al Jazeera’s Latin America editor Lucia Newman, reporting from Caracas, said the defection of the first active general is “another blow” to the Maduro administration.

“Juan Guaido has been publicly appealing to the armed forces to defect, to abandon Nicolas Maduro, whose main support comes from the military. Without it, he would have a difficult time to stay in power.”

But the question now is whether Yanez commands a number of troops, and orders members of the armed forces to follow him, our correspondent said.

Friday, February 1:

Pence calls for end of Maduro’s government

US Vice President Mike Pence, working to ramp up pressure for the ouster of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, told a rally on Friday that the time for dialogue had ended and all options were on the table to replace Maduro’s government.

“This is no time for dialogue. This is time for action,” Pence told a cheering crowd at a campaign-style rally. “The time has come to end the Maduro dictatorship once and for all.”

The US government has recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president and has called for other countries to do so as well.

Guaido rejects offers to mediate 

Opposition leader Juan Guaido says he is respectfully declining offers from the presidents of Mexico and Uruguay to negotiate with President Nicolas Maduro.

Guaido on Friday made public a letter that he is sending to both leaders. He urged them to be on the right side of history, saying that remaining neutral in the political struggle aligns them with Maduro.

Translation: We ratify to the governments of Mexico and Uruguay our position in restoring the constitutional order in Venezuela. We have a clear route.

Turkey: Trade in line with international laws 

Turkish officials told their US counterparts that Turkish trade – with Venezuela – is in accordance with international laws and regulations, a Turkish official said on Friday, a day after reports of Washington monitoring trade between Turkey and Venezuela.

A senior US official said on Thursday that Washington would take action if it judges that trade between its NATO ally and Venezuela violates sanctions.

During meetings between officials from Turkey’s Finance Ministry and the US Treasury, the two sides also discussed measures to boost bilateral trade, the official said.

Turkish officials told their US counterparts Turkish trade is in accordance with international laws [Manaure Quintero/Reuters] 

Bolton: No imminent military intervention 

Military intervention in Venezuela by the US is not imminent, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said on Friday but reiterated that all options remain on the table.

Asked if US military intervention was imminent – or by Brazil or Colombia or a combination of all three nations – Trump adviser John Bolton told the Hugh Hewitt radio show: “No.”

Venezuela to sell 15 tonnes of gold to UAE – Reuters

Venezuela will sell 15 tonnes of gold from central bank vaults to the United Arab Emirates in coming days in return for euros in cash, a senior official with knowledge of the plan has told the Reuters news agency, in an effort by the troubled OPEC member to stay solvent.

The sale this year of gold reserves that back the bolivar currency began with a shipment on January 26 of 3 tonnes, the official said, and follows the export last year of $900m of mostly unrefined gold to Turkey.

In total, the plan is to sell 29 tonnes of gold held in Caracas by February, the source said, requesting anonymity in order to speak freely.

Venezuela had reserves of 132 tonnes between the central bank’s vaults and the Bank of England at the end of November, according to central bank data.

Guaido vows to defy government’s aid ban

In an interview with The Associated Press, Guaido said he will defy a government ban on humanitarian assistance, including medicine, by sending large convoys of medicine into the country with the help of neighbouring states

The opposition leader described the plan as a “new test” for Venezuela’s armed forces, whose top brass has sided with Maduro.

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“In a few weeks, they will have to choose if they let much-needed aid into the country or if they side with Nicolas Maduro,” said Guaido, who recently offered an amnesty to members of the military in another effort to encourage them to defect.

Guaido said the aid will be shipped into “friendly ports” in neighbouring countries then transported by vehicles arriving at several border points.

“We are not just taking aid from the United States,” Guaido said. “But in the next few days, we will announce a global coalition to send aid to Venezuela.”

Thursday, January 31

UN chief offers ‘good offices’ 

The UN says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has responded to a letter sent via Twitter by the president of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaido.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday that Guterres reiterated the offer of his “good offices” to find a political solution to the current crisis and emphasised his public concern about the situation and its impact on the Venezuelan people.

Guaido declared himself Venezuela’s interim president last week and asked for international humanitarian assistance coordinated by the UN in the letter dated January 26.

Dujarric said Guterres responded that “the United Nations is ready to increase its activities in Venezuela in the areas of humanitarian assistance and development.”

But Dujarric said the secretary-general told Guaido that to do this the United Nations needs “the consent and the cooperation” of Nicolas Maduro’s government, which is recognised by the UN

EFE journalists freed from detention

Spain’s state-run EFE news agency says three of its journalists have been freed after being detained overnight in Venezuela’s capital.

EFE reported Thursday that the journalists are with Spain’s assistant consul in Venezuela.

According to the news agency, Colombian photographer Leonardo Munoz disappeared Wednesday while on assignment and two other journalists were later taken from their office by members of Venezuela’s intelligence agency.

Two French journalists were also freed from detention on Thursday, and two Chilean journalists were ordered deported.

A union for Venezuelan journalists says that officials detained 19 journalists in January as the nation reels from political unrest.

Guaido says special police force at his house

Juan Guaido said that agents from the Special Actions Force (FAES) unit were at his home, in a sign of increasing pressure on the opposition leader.

“I will hold you responsible for any intimidation of my baby, who is just 20 months old,” Guaido said at the end of a public event. He then left for home, asking diplomats to accompany him.

Translation: “At this moment the FAES is at my home. I make the citizen Nicolas Maduro responsible for the integrity of my daughter who is there,” he wrote. 

Neighbours rushed to the high-rise apartment building banging pots and pans. The police appeared to leave shortly after they arrived.

Guaido talks to media next to his wife Fabiana Rosales, while carrying their daughter outside their house [Carlos Garcia/Reuters]

Guaido addresses nation on his plan 

Juan Guaido, leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, has arrived at the Central University of Venezuela for the presentation of his “National Plan.”

Different members of civil society and the National Assembly participated in the conference.

Guaido assured that all Venezuelans are needed in order to build a plan that works.”The armed forces have an important role [here],” he said.

He thanked the European Parliament for its support and said the [opposition] is taking all the necessary steps for succeeding.

We don’t have “economic resources, but we have the people,” he added. 

According to Guaido, the priorities are: 1) coordination of humanitarian assistance, 2) restoration of public services, 3) reduction of dependency on subsidies.

Translation: Today we present #PlanPaís. The route for the country we want to build together. We have the agreement, the will and the professionals to immediately address the problems of Venezuelans, Guaido wrote on Twitter. 

Venezuela official says ‘terrorists’ foiled 

Venezuelan officials say security forces have taken down a “terrorist” group backed by political opponents plotting to assassinate embattled President Nicolas Maduro.

Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said Thursday that retired National Guard Oswaldo Garcia Palomo was among those detained.

Garcia Palomo has been an outspoken critic of Maduro who for months has openly declared his intentions to amass a military force in exile to remove Maduro from power.

Palomo’s wife Sorbay Padilla has said that she last heard from him Sunday after he entered the country clandestinely from Colombia.

Reverol accuses Colombian intelligence, the CIA and exiled Venezuelan lawmaker Julio Borges of being behind the alleged mercenary group.

He says security forces seized two rifles and 500 armbands bearing the letters “OC,” which he says stands for “Operation Constitution.”

Russia: No plans to evacuate diplomats

The spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry says there are no plans underway for evacuation of the country’s diplomats or other citizens from Venezuela, but is declining to comment on why a Russian airliner showed up in the Venezuelan capital’s airport.

The arrival of the Boeing 777 belonging to Russian airline Nordwind on Monday has led to widespread speculation. 

Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters Thursday that she could not comment on the airliner, “which was not sent for official goals.”

“I can say that this is not about evacuation of Russian diplomats, or their family members or Russian citizens that are employees of overseas agencies or companies,” she said.

A plane from Russian company Nordwind is seen at Simon Bolivar Airport in Caracas [Andres Martinez/Reuters] 

“Grave crisis” in Venezuela 

An independent UN human rights monitor says economic sanctions are compounding a “grave crisis” in Venezuela.

Idriss Jazairy, a special rapporteur focusing on the negative impact of sanctions, expressed concern about “reports” that the US sanctions were “aimed at changing the government of Venezuela.” He did not specify the reports.

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He added: “The use of sanctions by outside powers to overthrow an elected government is in violation of all norms of international law.”

President Donald Trump has vowed to use the “full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy.”

The Trump administration slapped sanctions on Venezuela that could starve the country of billions in oil revenue.

EU parliament recognises Guaido

The European Parliament has recognised Venezuela‘s self-declared interim president Juan Guaido as de facto head of state on Thursday, heightening international pressure on the OPEC member’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

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EU lawmakers voted 429 in favour to 104 against, with 88 abstentions, at a special session in Brussels to recognise Venezuelan congress head Guaido as interim leader.

In a statement with the non-binding vote, the parliament urged the bloc’s 28 governments to follow suit and consider Guaido “the only legitimate interim president” until there were “new free, transparent and credible presidential elections”.

Guaido said that this recognition by the European Parliament represented a “great step” towards the fight for democracy in Venezuela. 

“We have taken a big step in our struggle for democracy!,” Guaido wrote on Twitter.

“We appreciate the decision [taken by] the European Parliament [it] recognise[s] all the effort that we Venezuelans have put forward for the restitution of constitutional order in our country”

Trump calls Guaido to urge ‘fight for democracy’

The White House said President Donald Trump spoke to Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaido, by phone, reiterating support for his “fight to regain democracy”.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump and Guaido agreed to maintain regular communication after Venezuelan authorities opened an investigation that could lead to Guaido’s arrest.

Maduro, 56, says Guaido is staging a US-directed coup against him. Maduro is not expected to stand down while he has the backing of senior military officers and has made daily visits to troops.

“Do you want to be a coward?” Maduro yelled in a call and response session with hundreds of soldiers. “No, president,” they shouted back.

Actions against Guaido would be ‘foolish’: US

The US envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, warned President Maduro that acting against Juan Guaido would be an “extremely foolish move”.

“The security of interim president Guaido is a concern,” Abrams told reporters.

“The regime has not acted against him in some time and I hope that is because they recognize that he has the support of the vast majority of Venezuelans, and that would be an extremely foolish move for the regime to make.”

Abrams emphasised that unseating Maduro, who still has the backing of the military, could take time.

US aid agency creating humanitarian plan for Venezuela 

Mark Green, head of the US Agency for International Development, spoke with Guaido about assisting Venezuelans amid the devastating economic crisis.

US officials will continue to coordinate with the opposition leader’s team about the creation of a specific plan in the coming days to meet the country’s humanitarian needs, according to Guaido’s spokesman.

Discussions have been held about ramping up aid to Venezuelans, including through a “humanitarian corridor” into the country, US envoy Elliott Abrams said. He did not give logistical details as to how such a scheme would operate.

Guaido: Opposition had clandestine meetings with members of military

In an opinion piece published by the New York Times, Guaido argued that Venezuela’s opposition has had clandestine meetings with members of the military and security forces.

“The transition will require support from key military contingents. We have had clandestine meetings with members of the armed forces and the security forces,” Guaido said.

“The military’s withdrawal of support from Mr (President Nicolas) Maduro is crucial to enabling a change in government.”

Wednesday, January 30

Mexico, Uruguay announce conference on Venezuela

Mexico and Uruguay announced they would convene an international conference for countries and bodies with a “neutral position” to discuss the political crisis in Venezuela.

The two countries have not yet recognised the claim by National Assembly leader Juan Guaido to be acting president in place of leader Nicolas Maduro.

The conference, announced on the website of the Uruguayan presidency, is due to take place in Montevideo on February.

Colombia bars entry to people for Maduro links

Colombia is barring over 200 people identified as having close ties to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from entering the neighbouring Andean nation.

Migration director Christian Kruger said on Wednesday the measure is part of a larger response by the regional bloc known as the Lima Group.

Venezuelan Ronald Ramirez became the first person denied entry Wednesday after landing in the Colombian city of Barranquilla on a charter plane.

Envoy says Venezuela military is split

The Trump administration’s special envoy for Venezuela says there are deep splits in the country’s military that should make embattled President Nicolas Maduro and his supporters very nervous.

Elliott Abrams says the vast majority of Venezuelan soldiers are unhappy with Maduro and the state of the country. Abrams says Maduro may have the backing of the top brass but the rank-and-file are restive.

Abrams told reporters at the State Department on Wednesday that the administration would continue to ramp up pressure to push Maduro to step down and would expand its support for opposition leader Juan Guaido.

France: Maduro ignoring calls for elections

France said that Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro appeared not to be heeding calls for new presidential elections and that European foreign ministers would discuss next steps in Bucharest on Thursday.

France, along with other European Union members, said on Saturday they would recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s rightful leader if Maduro failed to call a new vote within eight days.

“We asked … for Maduro to announce presidential elections which would be monitored by the international community. It seems that he’s against this, so, if that’s the case, we would like Guaido to take up this initiative.”

Government assets

The US representative for Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido will meet with US officials on Wednesday to plan a takeover of assets from socialist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

Carlos Vecchio told reporters at a news conference that he will meet with White House officials o US Treasury Department possibly on Thursday about how to take control of Venezuelan assets in a progressive and orderly fashion, following a legal procedure. 

Carlos Alfredo Vecchio, charge d’affaires appointed by Venezuela’s opposition leader, talks to the media after meeting [Yuri Gripas/Reuters]

Two French reporters and Venezuelan producer arrested 

Two French reporters have been arrested covering the political turmoil in Venezuela and the French embassy is working for their release, a diplomatic source said on Wednesday.

“We confirm the arrest of two of our compatriots in Venezuela,” the French source told Reuters.

“Our Embassy has requested consular protection in accordance with the Vienna Convention and in particular the right of access. ” 

Rolando Rodriguez, a Venezuelan producer, was with the team as well.

Translation: The [French] reporters and Venezuelan Rolando Rodriguez attended the vigil scheduled outside the Presidential Palace on Tuesday, and since then contact with them has been lost, the National Union for Press workers in Venezuela wrote. 

US warns against trade with Venezuela 

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton underlined US pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday, telling bankers, brokers and traders not to deal in the country’s commodities that he said were “stolen” from the Venezuelan people.

“My advice to bankers, brokers, traders, facilitators, and other businesses: don’t deal in gold, oil, or other Venezuelan commodities being stolen from the Venezuelan people by the Maduro mafia. We stand ready to continue to take action,” he wrote in a Twitter post.

Walkout in Venezuela 

Venezuelans are exiting their homes and workplaces in a walkout organised by the opposition to demand that President Nicolas Maduro leave power.

People began gathering on streets in the capital city of Caracas around noon, waving flags and chanting phrases like, “Free elections!”

The demonstration comes one week after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself president before thousands of supporters, contending that he is the nation’s rightful leader because Maduro’s reelection was a sham.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido takes part in a demonstration [Carlos Garcia/Reuters]
Supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader hold a banner reading “free Venezuela” outside a hospital in Caracas [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]
The demonstration comes one week after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself president [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Trump stresses support on call with Guaido

US President Donald Trump and Juan Guaido agreed during a Wednesday phone call to maintain regular contact amid planned protests in coming days, according to a White House spokeswoman.

Trump spoke with Guiado “to reinforce President Trump’s strong support for Venezuela’s fight to regain its democracy,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

Maduro calls for preventing a ‘Vietnam in Latin America’ 

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is pressing his case directly to the American people, asking for their help in preventing a “Vietnam in Latin America.”

In a 45-second video shot late Tuesday from the presidential palace and addressed to “the American people”, Maduro said that the Trump administration is behind an attempt to overthrow him in a coup.

He said the US is looking to get its hands on Venezuela‘s abundant oil reserves, replicating US military interventions in Iraq and Libya.

But he said he is confident that he’s on the “right side of history” and pleaded with regular Americans to keep US troops out of the country.

Translation: American people, I ask for your support to reject the interference of Donald Trump’s government [in Venezuela], [he] aims to make my homeland a Vietnam in Latin America. Do not let him! 

Maduro attends military event

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has attended a military event ahead of planned anti-government protests.

In scenes broadcast on state TV, Maduro could be seen walking around the Fort Tiuna military base in Caracas early Wednesday, with top commanders and dozens of troops.

“Do you love your homeland? Will you defend the constitution? Will you defend your commander in
chief?” Maduro asked the troops, who responded with loud shouts of “Yes, commander in chief!”

President Nicolas Maduro gestures during a meeting with soldiers at a military base [Reuters]

Trump warns Americans not to travel to Venezuela

President Donald Trump on Wednesday warned US citizens against travelling to Venezuela amid the political crisis there over control of the government, as the US and other nations have recognised Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s rival Juan Guaido.

Maduro ready for talks

President Maduro expressed readiness to hold negotiations with the American-backed opposition in the presence of international mediators while accusing the US of ordering his assassination.

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The leader, who previously rejected calls for talks, told Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti news agency on Wednesday he changed his stance “for the sake of Venezuela’s peace and its future”.

Maduro said the talks could be held with the mediation of other countries and he mentioned Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia, the Vatican and Russia as potential third parties.

He accused US President Donald Trump of organising his killing, saying he was aware of Trump’s “orders” for the Colombian government and local mafia to carry it out. He offered no evidence to support the allegation.

“If something happens to me one day then Donald Trump and Colombian President Ivan Duque will be responsible for everything that is happening to me,” he said.

Tuesday, January 29 

US warns against “harm” to Guaido

US President Trump’s national security advisor warned of “serious consequences” if any harm comes to Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Bolton’s warning followed a request by the Maduro government’s attorney general for the Supreme Court to bar Guaido from leaving the country and to freeze his assets.

Pence to meet with new Venezuelan envoy 

Vice President Mike Pence will meet Tuesday afternoon with Carlos Vecchio, a new Venezuelan envoy in Washington appointed by opposition leader Juan Guaido.

The meeting will take place one day after the Trump administration sanctioned Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, ratcheting up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to cede power to the US-backed opposition in the oil-rich South American nation.

Attorney general seeks Guaido investigation

Venezuela’s Attorney General Tarek Saab on Tuesday said he asked the Supreme Court to open a preliminary investigation against self-proclaimed President Juan Guaido and to freeze the opposition leader’s accounts.

As a lawmaker, who also heads the National Assembly, Guaido has immunity from criminal investigation which can only be removed by a high court.

Venezuela’s Chief Prosecutor Tarek William Saab attends a news conference at the Supreme Court [Manaure Quintero/Reuters] 

US gives control over bank accounts to Guaido

The US certified the authority of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to control certain assets held by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or any other US-insured banks, the State Department said on Tuesday.

The certification, given on Friday, applies to certain property held in accounts belonging to the Venezuelan government or its central bank.

“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. 

Bolton’s notes raise questions on troops 

White House national security adviser John Bolton raised questions about the US’s intentions in Venezuela after he appeared at a briefing on Monday, with a notepad containing the words “5,000 troops to Colombia,” which neighbours Venezuela.

It was not immediately clear what Bolton’s note meant and whether President Donald Trump’s administration was seriously considering sending US troops to Colombia.

It was also not clear if disclosure of the note was intentional.

Representatives for the National Security Council and the Pentagon could not be immediately reached for comment.

Guaido urges peaceful transition

Venezuela‘s opposition movement can achieve a peaceful transition from President Nicolas Maduro and eventually hold free elections, its leader Juan Guaido told CNN in an interview that aired on Tuesday.

“We are sure we can achieve a peaceful transition – a transition and eventually free elections,” Guaido said in the Spanish-language interview, which was translated into English.

Guaido, who has led the movement against Maduro with support from the US and other Western nations, spoke after Washington on Monday imposed sanctions on state-owned oil firm PDVSA as it pressured Maduro’s government.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido believes a peaceful transition can be achieved [File: Reuters]

UN: Nearly 700 Venezuela arrests in a day 

The UN human rights office says security forces in Venezuela detained nearly 700 people in one day last week amid anti-government protests – the highest such tally in a single day in the country in at least 20 years.

Rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said on Tuesday that 696 people were detained on January 23 alone. Overall, some 850 were detained between Monday and Saturday, including 77 children.

Colville said that “more than 40 people” are now believed to have been in killed “in different manners” amid the recent protests, including 11 people reportedly killed by “unidentified individuals” linked to incidents of looting.

China critical of US sanctions 

China’s foreign ministry has said it continues to recognise Nicolas Maduro as Venezuela’s president and criticised planned US sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned petroleum company.

“Experience has proven that external interference or sanctions will only complicate the situation and will not help solve practical problems,” said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a regular media briefing Tuesday.

Monday, January 28

Maduro hits back at US sanctions, vows action

Responding to Washington’s move to impose sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA, Maduro said the measures were “criminal” and vowed to take action.

“I have given specific instructions to the head of PDVSA to launch political and legal action, in US and international courts, to defend the property and assets of Citgo,” Maduro said in televised remarks.

In a direct message to President Donald Trump spoken in broken English, Maduro said forcefully: “Hands off Venezuela!” as he accused Washington of robbing Venezuelans of oil riches that rightfully belong to them.

US sanctions on state oil firm PDVSA 

The Trump administration on Monday imposed sanctions on PDVSA, the toughest US financial measure so far against Maduro.

“We have continued to expose the corruption of (Venezuelan President Nicolas) Maduro and his cronies and today’s action ensures they can no longer loot the assets of the Venezuelan people,” US national security adviser John Bolton told reporters at a White House briefing.

PDVSA is OPEC nation Venezuela’s largest source of revenue and owns US refining arm Citgo Petroleum, Venezuela’s most important foreign asset.

Guaido orders new boards for PDVSA, Citgo

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has ordered Congress to begin the process of naming new boards of directors to state oil company PDVSA and US refining subsidiary Citgo.

His advisers are rushing to take control of Citgo, the country’s main foreign asset, before a potential bond default that could leave half the company in creditors’ hands, sources close to the talks told Reuters earlier on Monday.

Guaido also announced he was taking control of the country’s foreign assets to prevent leader Nicolas Maduro from commandeering them in an eventual exit from power.

In a statement published on social media, Guaido said he was “beginning to take progressive and orderly control of our republic’s assets abroad to prevent, during his exit… that the usurper and his band try to empty the coffers.”

Guaido urges Britain not to give gold to Maduro 

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has asked British authorities to stop President Nicolas Maduro gaining access to gold reserves held in the Bank of England, according to letters released by his party on Sunday.

In letters to British Prime Minister Theresa May and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, Guaido said Maduro government officials were seeking to sell the gold and move the proceeds to Venezuela’s central bank.

“I am writing to ask you to stop this illegitimate transaction,” wrote Guaido. “If the money is transferred … it will be used by the illegitimate and kleptocratic regime of Nicolas Maduro to repress and brutalize the Venezuelan people.”

The Bank of England and May’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In the past, the bank has declined to comment on questions about Venezuela’s gold, citing client privacy considerations.

Canada to host regional leaders for talks 

Canada will host an “urgent meeting” of the Lima Group on the Venezuela crisis on February 4 in Ottawa, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland announced on Monday.

The bloc of 14 nation, Latin American powers and Canada, will “discuss the steps we can take to support (opposition leader) Juan Guaido and the people of Venezuela,” she said.

US in talks to improve relations

The top US envoy in Caracas has been meeting with officials of President Nicolas Maduro‘s government to try to ease heightened tensions, despite the two countries having cut ties, Venezuela’s foreign minister said Monday.

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza appeared on state TV holding up photos of US Charge d’Affaires James Story and a top Venezuelan government official as proof.

“We are acting in good faith from Venezuela,” Arreaza said. “We aspire to see the United States also cooperate in good faith.”

The two countries broke relations last week after President Donald Trump recognised opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.

Venezuela devalues currency 

Venezuela devalued its currency by almost 35 percent on Monday to bring it into line with the exchange rate of the dollar on the black market.

The exchange rate is now fixed at 3,200 bolivars to the dollar, almost matching the 3,118.62 offered on the dolartoday.com site that acts as the reference for the black market.

Exchanges will now be provided by a technological platform operated by a private firm called Interbanex, which said it would operate a “supply and demand” exchange.

Venezuela’s government has devalued its currency by almost 35 percent [File: Getty Images] 

NGO: Protests have left 35 dead

A week of protests against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has left 35 people dead and 850 detained, non-governmental organisations said on Monday.

“We have the corroborated figure, with first name, surname, place and presumed guilty parties, of 35 people murdered in the context of the protests” since Monday last week, said Rafael Uzcategui, director of the Venezuelan Programme for Education-Action in Human Rights.

Another NGO, Foro Penal, said 850 people, among them 77 minors, have been arrested.

Opposition supporters take part in a rally on January 23 [File: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]

Oil market 

The crisis in OPEC member Venezuela could impact the oil market balance, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Monday.

“Of course, developments in Venezuela may have an impact on the (oil) markets … We are watching developments there and there could be an impact on the oil market balance,” al-Falih said.

Minister of Energy Khalid al-Falih believes crisis in Venezuela could impact the oil market [File: Getty Images]

Pope: ‘Terrified of bloodbath’ 

Pope Francis has said he is “terrified of a bloodbath” in Venezuela but does not want to pick sides in the political standoff because it is not his role as a pastor.

If I were to enter and say “Do this” to those countries, or to other countries, I would put myself in a role that I do not know. It would be a pastoral imprudence on my part and would do damage.”

Francis called for a “just and peaceful” solution to the crisis in Venezuela that respects human rights and avoids suffering. 

Sunday, January 27 

Kremlin denies reports Russia mercenaries protecting Maduro

The Kremlin denied news reports that Russian private military contractors were in Venezuela to protect embattled President Nicolas Maduro.

Several Russian and international media outlets have reported about Russian mercenaries sent to Venezuela to help Maduro who is under international pressure to hold elections.

Asked on television about whether there were “400 of our fighters protecting Maduro” in Venezuela, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded: “No of course not.”

Pope calls for ‘just and ‘peaceful solution for Venezuela

Pope Francis called for a just and peaceful solution that respects human rights, in his first remarks on the Venezuela crisis.

“Faced with the grave situation it is going through, I ask the Lord that a just and peaceful solution is sought and achieved in order to overcome the crisis, respecting human rights [and] the good of all the people of the country,” he said.

Israel recognises Guaido as leader of Venezuela

Israel threw its support behind opposition leader Guaido as the country’s leader.

“Israel joins the United States, Canada, most of the countries of Latin America and countries in Europe in recognising the new leadership in Venezuela,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement

Saturday, January 26

Venezuela rejects eight-day deadline

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza rejected an eight-day deadline set by some European nations to plan new elections, saying no power “can dictate to our nation its destiny”.

“Venezuela will not allow anyone to impose on us any decision or order,” Arreaza told the United Nations Security Council. “We will continue following the path of our democracy.”

Russia: US using UNSC to effect regime change

Russia accused the US of using the UNSC as part of an “unethical ploy” to effect regime change in Venezuela.

Moscow’s Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia harked back to previous US interventions in Latin American countries, such as Nicaragua, and said Washington still considers Latin America its “backyard”.

Russia also told the council that the US should give a clear answer on whether it is willing to use military force in Venezuela, although the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, did not discuss the country’s next steps.

“I’m not going to speculate or hypothesise what the US will do next,” Pompeo told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting.

US: Free Venezuelans from ‘illegitimate mafia state’

Speaking at the UNSC meeting, Pompeo urged all nations to back congressional leader Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president, so that Venezuelans can free themselves from what he calls President Maduro’s “illegitimate mafia state”.

“Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem,” Pompeo said, urging nations to pick a side.

Pompeo added that “the humanitarian situation demands action now”.

Pompeo also brushed off Maduro’s call for US diplomats to leave, saying he expects the envoys to continue to enjoy protections and safety.

“Do not test the United States in our resolve to protect our own people,” Pompeo said.

EU calls for new elections

The European Union says it could recognise Guaido as Venezuela’s leader if the government doesn’t announce new elections in the coming days.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement on Saturday that the European bloc would intensify contacts with international partners “in the coming hours” on Venezuela’s crisis.

The EU urgently called for new elections, saying Venezuela’s presidential vote last year was not democratic.

“In the absence of an announcement on the organisation of fresh elections with the necessary guarantees over the next days, the EU will take further actions, including on the issue of recognition of the country’s leadership,” Mogherini said.

European nations’ deadline for Maduro

France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom have given Maduro eight days to call elections, failing which they will recognise opposition leader Guaido as interim president, joining other nations, including the US in endorsing him.

“If within eight days there are no fair, free and transparent elections called in Venezuela, Spain will recognise Juan Guaido as Venezuelan president,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in an official, televised announcement.

Friday, January 25

Ex-diplomat Abrams to lead US efforts

Former US diplomat Elliott Abrams will lead US efforts on Venezuela, Secretary of State Pompeo said on Friday.

“Elliott will be a true asset to our mission to help the Venezuelan people fully restore democracy and prosperity to their country,” Pompeo said, announcing Abrams’ appointment.

He said Abrams would accompany him to the UN on Saturday for a UNSC meeting on Venezuela.

‘Citgo is property of the state’

Venezuela’s most important foreign asset, its $10bn US refining arm Citgo Petroleum, will arm itself with a legal strategy to block efforts to remove its board and divert its revenues to an opposition government, sources close to the talks told the Reuters news agency. 

Guaido, the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, is considering naming a new team to lead Citgo. 

But President Maduro said in Caracas on Friday that his government would seek to defend the refiner.

“Citgo is the property of the Venezuelan state,” Maduro said, adding that the OPEC member plans to continue selling petroleum to the US, its first destination for crude exports and state-run oil and gas company PDVSA’s largest source of cash.

Russia willing to mediate in Venezuela 

A senior Russian diplomat said Moscow is ready to mediate between Venezuela’s government and the opposition.

Alexander Shchetinin, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Latin America department, told the state RIA Novosti news agency on Friday that “if our efforts are called for, we are ready to make the effort.”

Moscow had already denounced the US decision to recognise Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president, calling it an attempted coup.

Maduro willing to talk with challengers

President Maduro said he was willing to engage in talks with the opposition in order to avoid violence in a conflict over who was the legitimate leader of the country.

“I’m committed to a national dialogue. Today, tomorrow and always, I’m committed and ready to go wherever I have to. Personally, if I have to meet with this young man… I’ll go,” the leftist leader told a news conference.

Guaido swiftly rejected the offer.

“When they don’t get the results they want through repression, they offer us fake dialogue instead,” he told a separate news conference at a Caracas square.

“I want that to be clear to the world and to this regime – nobody here is signing up for a false dialogue.”

In previous rounds of talks last year, the government and the opposition failed to agree on conditions for holding presidential elections. Maduro eventually won the disputed contest.

‘When they don’t get the results they want through repression, they offer us fake dialogue instead’ Guaido said [Reuters] 

Debate in UNSC

President Maduro said he welcomes a debate about Venezuela in the Security Council.

Russia, a permanent member of the council and Maduro’s ally, said it will insist on compliance with international law if the UNSC holds a meeting on Venezuela.

Maduro and Guaido speak in Caracas

President Maduro addressed a press conference on Friday. Self-proclaimed interim president, Guaido, also spoke on the day. 

Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman, reporting from Cucuta, Colombia, said Maduro called it a coup attempt, being orchestrated and led by the US.

“He is most likely going to reiterate that he is willing to hold dialogue and negotiations for a constitutional peaceful way out of this crisis,” Newman said.

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Maduro also said he hoped the US fully complies with his order earlier in the week for its diplomats to leave Venezuela, which came after he announced plans to break relations.

On the other hand, opposition leader Guaido called for a “major demonstration next week” to demand Maduro’s resignation in his first public appearance since declaring himself “acting president” two days ago.

Juan Guaido … looks very upbeat, he is talking about the extraordinary international support he has received, but he addressed mainly the armed forces ..,” Newman said. 

“Guaido is appealing to the army to side with the ordinary Venezuelan people.” 

President Maduro speaks during a news conference at Miraflores Palace in Caracas [Reuters]

Guaido considers request for IMF funds

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido is considering requesting funds from international institutions, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to finance his interim government, sources told Reuters.

Guaido’s team is planning to name a new board for state-run oil firm PDVSA’s US unit, Citgo Petroleum, and a new representative to the Inter-American Development Bank, two sources familiar with the discussions said.

Venezuela’s opposition leader Guaido speaks during a news conference in Caracas [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]

IMF not saying who leads Venezuela

The IMF is avoiding saying whether it recognises opposition leader Guaido as interim president of Venezuela.

The director of the Western Hemisphere Department, Alejandro Werner, said the IMF will follow the position of its member states.

The IMF refused to say whether it has had any contact with either Guaido’s team or with officials working for Maduro’s government since Guaido pledged to serve as Venezuela’s interim president on January 23.

On the other hand, the Inter-American Development Bank has recognised Guaido.

Russia refuses to recognise Guaido

Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, said on Friday that Moscow would oppose a US push for the Security Council to recognise Venezuela’s opposition leader Guaido as the country’s interim president.

Pompeo to urge UNSC to recognise Guaido

US Secretary of State Pompeo will brief the UN Security Council on Venezuela and urge member countries to recognise opposition leader Guaido as the country’s interim president, the State Department said on Friday.

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The meeting of the 15-member council was requested by the US after Washington and a string of countries in the region said they recognised Guaido as the head of the state and urged President Maduro to step down.

The UN request faces opposition from Russia.

‘Turkey never sides with coup-plotters’

Turkey is against coup attempts anywhere in the world, said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, voicing solidarity with Maduro.

“We never side with the coup-plotters and we never will. We stand against them wherever they are across the world,” Erdogan told a rally in eastern Erzurum province.

“Now, there is a coup attempt in Venezuela, which we oppose once again. No matter where it happens, we will never side with the coup-plotters. If we believe in and support democracy, then respecting ballot boxes is what we need.”

Mexico offers to mediate

Mexico is willing to mediate between the Venezuelan government and the opposition to seek a solution to the country’s political crisis, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.

Mexico would undertake the task on condition that both sides ask for it, Obrador said in a press conference.

Analyst: US seeking to control Venezuela’s oil

“According to international law, and according to the Venezuelan constitution …. the people who are legitimately able to name a president in Venezuela are the citizens in Venezuela … ,” Peter Dobson, a Venezuelan political analyst, told Al Jazeera. 

“I think [that if] we call this anything other than a coup d’etat or an attempted coup d’etat, we will be mistaken.

“[The White House is attempting to overthrow President Maduro for] the same reason there were some intents on ousting president Chavez in 2002 or Maduro in 2014.

“One simple word oil, the control of the oil resources in Venezuela, as well as the diamonds, the gold, the water, the gas and a whole range of natural resources, is massively important for the United States, and [their] geostrategic interests across the world,” he added.

Venezuela’s Maduro attends a rally in support of his government [File: Reuters]

Spain pushes for election deadline 

Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell says that Spain is pushing for the EU to back Venezuelan opposition leader Guaido if President Maduro does not call elections by a deadline yet to be set.

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The deadline was being discussed on Friday by officials of the 28 countries in Brussels and Borrell said it should be “short and minimal”, without further specifying.

“We are trying to look for a solution that avoids confrontation and more deaths,” Borrell told reporters during a weekly government briefing.

US diplomats leave embassy in Caracas 

A US official said that some American diplomats and their families have headed to the Venezuelan capital’s airport amid the diplomatic standoff with President Maduro.

A letter written by a US embassy security officer requesting a Venezuelan police escort for 10 vehicles was leaked earlier on Friday on social media.

Maduro had on Wednesday given the US diplomats 72 hours to leave the country.

‘Venezuela needs a chance to return to democracy’

Germany said it favours recognising Venezuela’s opposition leader as the country’s interim president unless there are free and fair elections soon.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Friday that “Venezuela needs a chance to return to democracy” and Germany does not consider President Maduro to be legitimate.

Seibert said Germany is eager for the EU to reach a common line on Venezuela at a meeting of diplomats in Brussels on Friday.

UN calls for Venezuela probes

The UN human rights chief called for independent investigations into violence linked to protests in Venezuela, allegedly involving excessive use of force by security or pro-government forces that reportedly left at least 20 people dead.

Michelle Bachelet’s office in Geneva said that she “urged all sides to conduct immediate talks to defuse the increasingly incendiary atmosphere”.

She said an independent, impartial probe was needed for any violence leading to death or injury, whether caused by excessive force by security forces or armed groups – pro-government or not.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Friday “at least 20 people are reported by credible local sources to have died after allegedly being shot by security forces or members of pro-government armed groups during demonstrations Tuesday and Wednesday”.

India calls for dialogue 

India called for dialogue among stakeholders in Venezuela amid the ongoing political crisis in the oil-rich South American nation.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar told news website Wire on Friday: “..it is for the people of Venezuela to find a political solution to resolve their differences through constructive dialogue and discussion without resorting to violence.”

“We believe democracy, peace and security in Venezuela are of paramount importance for the progress and prosperity of the people of Venezuela,” Kumar said, adding that the two countries enjoyed “close and cordial relations”.

Maduro thanks countries for support

In a post on Twitter, Maduro hailed Moscow, Beijing and Ankara for their support amid the crisis.

“I thank Russia, China, Turkey and other governments and people of the world for their strong support of the legitimately established government of Venezuela,” he said in a Twitter post.

“Venezuela is not alone!” he added.

Guaido says Maduro amnesty on the table

In his first comments since declaring himself interim president, Guaido said he would consider granting amnesty to Maduro and his allies if they helped Venezuela return to democracy.

The remarks are part of a soon-to-be-aired interview the opposition leader gave to Univision that was published on its website.

Guaido said that amnesty was on the table for anybody willing to help return Venezuela to constitutional order.

US orders non-emergency embassy staff to leave Venezuela

The US State Department ordered non-emergency government employees to leave Venezuela and said the US citizens should “strongly consider” leaving the country, the US Embassy in Caracas said.

Maduro orders diplomats out of US

President Maduro ordered all Venezuelan diplomats home from the US and is closing its embassy.

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Maduro said that if US officials had any sense they would pull out their own diplomats from Caracas rather than defying his order to leave.

The two countries have not exchanged ambassadors in nearly a decade, but they have maintained diplomatic staff.

Death toll reaches 26: NGO

Twenty-six people have been killed since the latest wave of protests against Nicolas Maduro broke out four days ago, the Caracas-based Observatory of Social Conflict said on Thursday.

The previous toll from the protests – which began when a group of soldiers took over a command post in the north of the capital in defiance of the socialist regime – had stood at 16.

In some places, armed forces have fired tear gas and rubber bullets to subdue protesters, some of whom threw stones.

Demonstrators clash with police during a protest [File: Manaure Quintero/Reuters] 

Venezuelan embassy in Turkey calls for solidarity

The Venezuelan Embassy in Turkey on Thursday urged solitary from the people of Turkey. 

“We expect solidarity from the Turkish people,” the embassy said in a statement, Anadolu Agency reported.

“We strongly condemn the fascist attacks attempting to undermine the legitimacy of President Nicolas Maduro’s government,” the statement read.

Maduro accuses US of ‘leading major provocation’

“I had a phone call with President of Russia Vladimir Putin, with whom I spoke for about 20 minutes, President Putin always expressing his solidarity with Venezuela,” President Maduro said.

“The US is leading a major provocation against Venezuela,” he explained.

“I believe that in the world there is no doubt that it is Donald Trump himself who wishes to impose a defacto… government.. in Venezuela, against the people and against democracy.”

“Donald Trump with his insanity of thinking that he is the policeman of the world, believing that he is the one in charge of Latin American and the Caribbean, it’s a major provocation.”

“[But] I tell you, President Putin, just as I told people yesterday… everyone to work, everything will work, and the country continues to go forward, and the government continues to govern,” he added. 

Venezuela’s Supreme Court members applauded and pledged their unwavering support for President Maduro.

President Maduro gestures during a ceremony to mark the opening of the judicial year at the Supreme Court of Justice [Carlos Garcia/Reuters]

US requests UN Security Council meeting

The US has called for a meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the crisis in Venezuela, the US mission to the United Nations said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to attend the open meeting requested for Saturday, diplomats said.

US seeks to cut off revenues from Nicolas Maduro

The US is seeking to ensure that Venezuelan oil revenue goes to opposition leader Juan Guaido, and to cut off money from President Nicolas Maduro, national security advisor John Bolton said on Thursday.

The announcement signals that Washington is willing to go beyond traditional diplomatic measures and will seek to starve Maduro’s government of revenue as his administration is already struggling with unpaid bills and creditors demanding payment.

“What we’re focusing on today is disconnecting the illegitimate Maduro regime from the sources of his revenues,” Bolton told reporters at the White House.

But he said the process was “very complicated” and that officials were still studying how this would function.

‘What we’re focusing on today is disconnecting the illegitimate Maduro regime from the sources of his revenues,’ Bolton said [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

Mike Pompeo promises aid to Venezuela

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on members of the Organization of American States (OAS) to recognise National Assembly President Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela.

At a meeting in Washington, Pompeo said “the time for debate is done. The regime of former President Nicolas Maduro is illegitimate.”

Pompeo also pledged $20m in humanitarian assistance to Venezuela and called on Venezuelan security forces to protect Guaido’s physical safety. 

Pope following situation in Venezuela 

The Vatican says Pope Francis is closely following developments in Venezuela and supports “all efforts that help save the population from further suffering”.

A statement from Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti on Thursday did not specify whether the Holy See recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido’s claim to the interim presidency.

Francis is nearby on a visit to Panama for World Youth Day. 

Venezuela defence minister says Maduro is ‘legitimate president’

Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said on Thursday that Nicolas Maduro was the country’s “legitimate president” and that the opposition was carrying out a coup after Juan Guaido, the leader of Congress, declared himself president.

Padrino said the US and other governments were carrying out an economic war against Venezuela, an OPEC nation with the world’s largest crude reserves.

UK says Guaido right person to take country forward

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself president on Wednesday, is the right person to take the country forward, Britain’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said on Thursday.

“The United Kingdom believes Juan Guaido is the right person to take Venezuela forward. We are supporting the US, Canada, Brazil and Argentina to make that happen,” he told the media during a visit to Washington.

Hunt added that Britain did not regard Nicolas Maduro as Venezuela’s legitimate leader following elections on May 20 last year that Britain said had been “deeply flawed”. 

US asks to brief UN Security Council on Venezuela: envoy

US Secretary of State Pompeo has asked to brief the UN Security Council on Venezuela on Saturday, South Africa’s United Nations Ambassador Jerry Matjila told reporters on Thursday.

Erdogan says impossible for Turkey to approve developments in Venezuela

It is impossible for Turkey to approve of the developments in Venezuela, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday, adding that he believed the people of Venezuela would continue to support President Nicolas Maduro

Speaking at a joint news conference with his Maltese counterpart in Ankara, Erdogan said he found US President Donald Trump’s comments on Venezuela shocking and added that democracies needed to respect election results.

At least 12 killed in latest violence: Monitoring group

A Venezuelan monitoring group says at least a dozen people have been killed by gunfire in a wave of anti-government unrest rocking Venezuela.

Coordinator Marco Ponce with the non-profit Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict gave the death toll and names of those reported dead to the Associated Press on Thursday.

Seven deaths had been reported earlier.

For a third consecutive night, there were reports of looting in poor neighbourhoods in Caracas and clashes between protesters and state security forces

Military commanders take to airwaves to vow loyalty to Maduro 

Military commanders across Venezuela are taking to the airwaves to vow loyalty to embattled President Nicolas Maduro.

Major General Victor Palacio said Thursday he categorically rejected any acts threatening stability in Venezuela.

Palacio is one of several generals who have been appearing on state TV, standing before dozens of soldiers in a show of military support.

Major General Manuel Gregorio Bernal also backed Maduro, saying the president represents an independent country in the face of imperialist aggression.

UN chief calls for dialogue to avoid violence 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling for dialogue in Venezuela, saying violence or escalation should be avoided in Venezuela. 

“It is absolutely essential to have dialogue to avoid violence and avoid escalation,” Guterres said without elaborating. 

Venezuelan lawyers seek protection for Guaido 

Three Venezuelan lawyers are asking the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to grant precautionary measures to protect Guaido and his family. 

The document, filed only hours after Guaido declared himself an interim president of the country, states that the request does not equal to a recognition of the legitimacy of the Maduro administration.

Mexico urges two sides to hold talks 

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard on Thursday urged Maduro and Guaido to hold talks to avoid escalating violence in Venezuela. 

World powers denounce US interference

TurkeyRussia, and China have come to the defence of Venezuela’s embattled leader. 

“As a country that believes in democracy … wherever in the world there is a coup attempt, we stand against them all without distinction. Everyone has to respect the result of the ballot boxes,” Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

China also denounced the foreign intervention into Venezuela’s domestic politics. 

“China always maintains the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, opposing external intervention in Venezuelan domestic affairs,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

Russia warned the US not to intervene militarily in Venezuela, saying its support for Guaido was a “path to lawlessness and bloodshed”.

Regional powers set to meet

On Thursday attention will shift to Washington where diplomats at the Organization of American States will hold an emergency meeting on the Venezuelan situation.

The debate promises to be charged, and the National Assembly’s newly picked diplomatic envoy will be lobbying to take Venezuela’s seat from Maduro’s ambassador.

Meanwhile, many Venezuelans will be looking for Guaido to re-emerge and provide guidance on the opposition’s next steps.

The armed forces’ top command is also expected to issue a statement, although nobody expects the generals’ loyalties to Maduro to have shifted.

“While it’s true that Guaido has been recognised internationally, the real power of the state is still in the hands of Nicolas Maduro,” said Ronal Rodriguez, a political science professor who focuses on Venezuela at Rosario University in Bogota.

Venezuela president denounces US ‘coup’ attempt

Nicolas Maduro has accused the US of orchestrating a coup d’etat while seeking to run Venezuela from Washington, DC. 

“Don’t trust the gringos,” he thundered to a crowd of red-shirted supporters gathered at the presidential palace. “They don’t have friends or loyalties. They only have interests … and the ambition to take Venezuela’s oil, gas and gold.” 

Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino said the armed forces did not recognise a self-proclaimed president “imposed by shadowy interests … outside the law”.

Wednesday, January 23

Lawyers ask for Guaido protection

Three Venezuelan lawyers ask the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to grant precautionary measures to protect Guaido, his wife and his daughter.

The request, shared with The Associated Press news agency by the lawyer Ignacio Alvarez, argues the measure is needed to safeguard the life, personal integrity and personal freedom of Guaido and his immediate family.

The document says the request does not equal to a recognition of the legitimacy of the Maduro government.

The human rights body of the Organization of American States has the authority to grant precautionary measures as a way to request states protection for persons at urgent and grave risk of suffering irreparable harm.

Mexico and Uruguay urge calm

Mexico and Uruguay call on all internal and external parties involved in Venezuela’s crisis to defuse tensions and prevent an escalation of violence.

Uruguay’s foreign ministry releases a statement saying the two countries are proposing a “new process of inclusive and credible negotiations with full respect for the rule of law and human rights” to resolve the dispute peacefully.

US: Maduro lacks authority to sever relations, expel diplomats

The US State Department says Maduro has no authority to cut diplomatic relations with Washington.

“The United States does not recognise the Maduro regime as the government of Venezuela,” it says in a statement.

“Accordingly the United States does not consider former president Nicolas Maduro to have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations with the United States or to declare our diplomats persona non grata.”

Erdogan expresses solidarity with Maduro

Following Washington’s move, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expresses solidarity with Maduro.

“Maduro brother, stand tall, Turkey stands with you, Erdogan tells President Nicolas Maduro by telephone,” Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin writes on Twitter.

Kalin also shares the #WeAreMADURO hashtag to show solidarity.

Venezuelan defence minister backs Maduro

Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino says via Twitter on Wednesday that the country’s armed forces disavow any president who is self-proclaimed or imposed by “dark interests”. 

Padrino vows that the armed forces will defend Venezuela’s constitution and national sovereignty. 

Maduro urges military unity

Maduro urges the military to maintain unity and discipline.

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“We will triumph over this as well, we will come out victorious,” Maduro tells supporters outside the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas. 

Maduro severs US ties

Just hours after the US backed the opposition leader, Maduro declares he is breaking relations with the US and gives its diplomatic personnel 72 hours to leave Venezuela.

Contacts have already been severely limited in recent years.

Bolivia, Cuba back Maduro 

Bolivia’s leftist President Evo Morales affirms his long-standing alliance with Maduro, offering to stand by Venezuela’s side against what he often calls US meddling in South America’s affairs.

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“Our solidarity with the Venezuelan people and our brother Nicolas Maduro, in these decisive hours in which the claws of imperialism seek again to mortally wound the democracy and self-determination of the peoples of South America,” Morales says in a Twitter post

Mexico also says it recognises “the authorities elected in accordance with the Venezuelan constitution”, seen as a lukewarm nod to Maduro, while Cuba expresses its “firm support” for the Venezuelan president after what it called a “coup attempt”. 

Other countries follow US 

Guaido gains recognition from a slew of right-wing or right-leaning Latin American governments, including Venezuela’s neighbours Brazil and Colombia. Guatemala and Costa Rica also recognise the opposition leader. 

Canada says it intends to back Guaido. 

Guaido’s declaration takes Venezuela into uncharted territory, with the possibility of the opposition now running a parallel government recognised abroad as legitimate but without control over state functions.

US recognises Guaido

Shortly after Guaido swears himself in, Trump officially recognises him as president.

“In its role as the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, the National Assembly invoked the country’s constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate, and the office of the presidency therefore vacant,” Trump says.

Guaido claims interim presidency

At a rally that brought hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans into the east of the capital, Caracas, Guaido says Maduro usurped power. 

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Guaido, 35, promises to create a transitional government that would help the country escape its hyperinflationary economic collapse.

“I swear to assume all the powers of the presidency to secure an end to the usurpation,” Guaido tells the crowd. 

Protesters gather for competing rallies 

Pro-opposition and pro-government supporters stage rallies across the country. 

Thousands of anti-government protesters participate in marches to demand Maduro’s resignation and security forces fire tear gas at opposition demonstrators blocking a highway.

Meanwhile, government supporters hold counterrallies for Maduro.

Tuesday, January 22

US Vice President Mike Pence backs opposition 

US Vice President Mike Pence backs the anti-government protests in a video posted on Twitter.

“On behalf of President Donald Trump and all the American people, let me express the unwavering support of the United States as you, the people of Venezuela, raise your voices in a call for freedom,” Pence says in the taped message.

“Nicolas Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power. He has never won the presidency in a free and fair election, and has maintained his grip on power by imprisoning anyone who dares to oppose him.”

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez accuses Pence of “openly calling for a coup”. 

Opposition organises anti-Maduro rallies 

Protesters burn rubbish and clash with troops in dozens of Caracas neighbourhoods, Reuters news agency reports.

The Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict, a body that monitors violence, says that a 16-year-old is killed overnight in the capital.

More protests are called for Wednesday.

Venezuela in crisis: All previous updates

Venezuela has plunged into a major political crisis amid a growing row over President Nicolas Maduro’s future as the country’s leader. Maduro took office for a second term on January 10 on the basis of what was by many condemned as a fraudulent election last May.

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