Venezuelans take to streets in walkout to push Maduro out

Ann Santiago
January 31, 2019

The U.S. recognized Maduro's rival and took other steps in Venezuela since its National Assembly President Juan Guaido declared himself the country's leader instead of Maduro on January 23.

USA national security adviser John Bolton issued a warning to the Maduro government earlier in the day urging them not to harm Guaido, the head of the opposition-controlled congress who has been recognized by the Trump administration and two dozen other nations as Venezuela's rightful president.

Venezuela's Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) barred opposition leader Juan Guaido who self-proclaimed himself interim president from leaving the country and froze his financial assets Tuesday.

Maduro, who accuses Guaido of staging a USA -directed coup against him, still has the support of the top military brass, and is unlikely to back down unless that changes.

Maduro, in response, said he was breaking ties with the US, giving diplomatic personnel 72 hours to leave the country.

The travel advisory said that the United States "has limited ability to provide emergency services" in Venezuela. More than 40 people have died so far in and around the protests that began a week ago, the United Nations human rights office said.

He did say Russian stands ready to help resolve Venezuela's political chaos in any way short of "interfering into the country's internal affairs".

"Donald Trump has without doubt given an order to kill me and has told the government of Colombia and the Colombian mafia to kill me", Maduro said, reprising a constant accusation of his and Chavez's over the years.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the potential impact of the partial government shutdown on the economy and Americans' tax returns, the risks of another potential shutdown and the administration's sanctions on Venezuela.

It comes amid fears of a US-backed coup to overthrow Maduro's government - something that could have prompted the movement of such large amounts of gold overseas.

In response to the sanctions, Valero Energy Corp. and other US refiners began stocking up on Canadian crude that's similar in quality to Venezuelan oil, while Venezuela's state-run oil firm began asking for upfront payments from refineries.

The US has thrown its weight behind opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has declared himself as Venezuela's new president.

Russian Federation has accused U.S. President Donald Trump's administration of trying to usurp power in Venezuela and warned against any military intervention.

Guaido called on Venezuelans to mount a peaceful, two-hour, midday protest Wednesday "to demand that the armed forces side with the people".

Oil is the backbone of Venezuela's federal revenue and cutting off Maduro's access to USA markets will cost his regime almost $20 billion within one year.

Venezuelan oil exports to the US have declined steadily over the years, falling particularly sharply over the past decade as its production plummeted amid its long economic and political crisis.

A top Russian finance ministry official, meanwhile, warned that Venezuela could have trouble meeting payments under a US$3.15 billion debt-rescheduling deal reached in 2017.

The sanctions will not likely affect consumer prices at the gas pump but will hit oil refiners, particularly those on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

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