Maduro agents arrest key aide of rival Juan Guaidó

24 March, 2019, 00:31 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • UN rights chief steps up criticism of Trump's Venezuela sanctions

"The regime's continued use of kidnapping, torture, and murder of Venezuelan citizens will not be tolerated by the USA or the worldwide coalition that is united behind President Guaido".

He repeated Trump's statement that "all options are on the table", but said "we're not thinking" about a military option at this time.

A United Nations spokesman Thursday expressed "concern" at the arrest, urging "all actors in Venezuela to take immediate steps to lower tensions and refrain from any action that could lead to further escalation".

"As they can not take the interim president prisoner, so they seek out people closest to him, threaten relatives, carry out kidnappings", Guaido told a news conference. He said "we won't be intimidated".

The situation in Venezuela is at an impasse, however, with President Maduro daily denouncing a United States "imperialist" plot to dislodge him, and Mr Guaido rallying supporters in a nationwide tour. The Miami Herald published an opinion piece from Pence that called for the release of Marrero from his undisclosed location.

Guaido's top aide is being investigated for crimes including an alleged plot to kill Maduro, the chief prosecutor's office said.

"The responsibility does not rest with China", the statement added, saying Guaido's representative lacked legitimacy because Guaido himself was "not a president elected through legal procedure".

"We're not bluffing when we told Maduro not to do stuff like this (the kidnapping)", John Bolton, Trump's national security adviser told Univision News in an interview aired Friday.

Guaido invoked the constitution in January to assume the interim presidency after declaring Maduro's 2018 re-election a fraud. "There are millions of Venezuelans who have supported him and may not be content with the current situation in the country, but don't support, the kind of coup-like situation that is taking place".

Holness had earlier posted on his Twitter page that he believed the talks were "promising".

Guaido spoke Thursday after intelligence agents staged an overnight raid and detained Roberto Marrero, his key aide. Vergara said that he was woken up by heavy banging at his door and that agents pointed weapons at him. In many parts of Venezuela, citizens rely heavily on government benefits and food for basic needs.

The United States has cautioned Maduro against laying a finger on Guaido or National Assembly deputies, threatening unspecified repercussions.

The Treasury Department announcement came while the President Donald Trump met with leaders from five nations in the Caribbean that generally support the U.S.' call for an end to Maduro's rule.

On Thursday, the United States threatened to derail the March 26-31 meeting unless Beijing granted a visa to Guaido's representative, Harvard economist Ricardo Hausmann.

The vice president pointed out how the USA has responded to the ongoing situation in Venezuela by sanctioning government officials, blocking them from taking US dollars from its state-owned oil company PDVSA and providing more than 525 metric tons of food aid.



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