Venezuela's Congress strips opposition lawmakers of immunity

08 May, 2019, 11:18 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • Labour Day Demonstration in Caracas

Venezuela lurched into a political crisis in January when National Assembly Speaker, Mr Guaido, challenged Mr Maduro's authority by declaring himself acting president.

"The United States of America will consider sanctions relief for all those who step up for the constitution and support the rule of law", Pence said.

"To those who continue to oppress the good people of Venezuela, know this: All options are on the table", he said.

USA officials have repeatedly said they are considering military "options" in the Venezuelan crisis in addition to diplomatic and economic pressure that has been intensifying for months against Maduro.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday removed sanctions on General Manuel Figuera, who headed the SEBIN intelligence agency and has switched sides.

The U.S. Secretary of State talked about military options as the turmoil in Venezuela intensifies.

Even though his coup attempt failed last week, Guaido claims that it is "clearly visible that the armed forces no longer support Maduro".

Pence also warned the 25 Venezuelan supreme court magistrates.

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He said that in a call, Russian president Vladimir Putin had assured him that "he is not looking to get involved in Venezuela other than he'd like to see something positive happen for Venezuela", before adding: "And I feel the same way".

US officials have said recently they are considering military options in Venezuela, as the USA intensifies diplomatic and economic pressure on the oil-rich country.

Mr Pence also said that a navy hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, would return to the area in June for a five-month mission to help neighbouring countries that are caring for some of the millions of Venezuelans who have fled their country.

Rather, the US should continue to nurture the multinational effort to rescue Venezuela from its slide into political and economic chaos and rely on economic pressure, including increasing and extending sanctions on key Maduro backers, to force a transition.

The court on Tuesday asked Venezuela's Constituent Assembly, a pro-Maduro legislative body, to determine whether to open criminal proceedings against seven opposition lawmakers. "The truth is, the Cubans need to let the Venezuelan people decide this".

The Venezuelan military is central to Mr. Maduro's grip on the South American nation, which is suffering from a lack of food and reliable electricity despite its oil resources.

"Let me take this opportunity to be very clear: the safety and security of President Juan Guaido and his family are a priority for the United States of America", Pence said.

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