crisis in venezuela
May 15, 2019

Citing safety concerns, the Trump administration on Wednesday announced it has suspended all commercial passenger and cargo flights between the United States and Venezuela.

The country is experiencing unrest, with violent protests and food and medicine shortages. The Department of Homeland Security said Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan found "conditions in Venezuela threaten the safety and security of passengers, aircraft, and crew, requiring an immediate suspension." Secretary of State Mike Pompeo approved halting flights, and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao implemented the order. Delta already paused service to Venezuela in 2017, and American Airlines suspended flights from Miami to Caracas in March.

Supplies, including much-needed food and medicine, are being sent to Venezuelans from friends and family in the United States, but packages will now have to go through other countries like Panama, costing more money and taking additional time. The United States does not recognize President Nicolás Maduro, and security expert Martin Rodil, who sends groceries and medicines to his mother in Venezuela, told The Wall Street Journal he doesn't see how grounding planes "hurts Maduro. But it hurts ordinary Venezuelans. In my office, all four of us send packages every month." Catherine Garcia

May 12, 2019

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó on Saturday said he has instructed his political envoy in Washington, Carlos Vecchio, to open "direct communications" with the United States military in the hopes they can cooperate on a solution to the situation in Venezuela.

The move could potentially lead to military coordination between the sides, as Guaidó seeks to remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his ruling United Socialist Party from power amid Venezuela's current economic and political crisis. Guaidó, who is recognized by the U.S. and other countries as Venezuela's legitimate interim president, had previously been tentative about publicly asking for enhanced U.S. involvement.

His recent remarks, which came at the end of a rally in Caracas, were the strongest indication yet that U.S. forces could possibly intervene in Venezuela. However, as The Guardian notes, direct military action is viewed as an unlikely scenario by both Washington and the Venezuelan opposition, despite both sides frequently saying they are considering multiple options without completely ruling out military operations.

Guaidó announced on Saturday he will meet with U.S. military officials to discuss new actions that could "achieve the necessary pressure" to put on Maduro and culminate in his removal from office. Tim O'Donnell

May 9, 2019

President Trump is having second thoughts about "his administration's aggressive strategy in Venezuela," complaining to aides and advisers that "he was misled about how easy it would be to replace the socialist strongman," President Nicolás Maduro, with opposition leader Juan Guaidó, The Washington Post reports. "The president's dissatisfaction has crystallized around National Security Adviser John Bolton and what Trump has groused is an interventionist stance at odds with his view that the United States should stay out of foreign quagmires."

Officially, U.S. policy in Venezuela is the same, and last week's failed effort to oust Maduro has "effectively shelved serious discussion of a heavy U.S. military response," and "Trump is now not inclined to order any sort of military intervention in Venezuela," the Post reports, citing current and former officials and outside advisers. Instead, the U.S. is settling in to wait out Maduro on the expectation he will fall on his own, with the help of U.S. sanctions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin "is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela other than he'd like to see something positive happen for Venezuela," Trump said last week, after a 90-minute phone call with Putin. "And I feel the same way. We want to get some humanitarian aid." U.S. officials say Russia is deeply involved in backing Maduro.

Trump has suggesting bombing or invading Venezuela as early as 2017, and he is reportedly more comfortable with his administration's similarly hawkish and interventionist policy toward Iran. And "despite Trump's grumbling that Bolton had gotten him out on a limb on Venezuela, Bolton's job is safe," the Post reports, citing two senior administration officials, "and Trump has told his national security adviser to keep focusing on Venezuela." Read more at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

May 9, 2019

The Venezuelan government's secret police have "kidnapped" National Assembly Vice President Edgar Zambrano, opposition leader Juan Guaidó said Wednesday.

Ever since an uprising against him failed last week, Venezuelan President Nicólas Maduro has been targeting opposition politicians, with at least 10 accused of treason, civil rebellion, and conspiracy, The Guardian reports. Intelligence agents found Zambrano inside his car, and after he refused to get out, they transported the vehicle to El Helicoide, a political prison known for torturing prisoners.

Maduro's government says Zambrano was one of the attempted coup's main leaders, but Guaidó said he believes he was detained in the hopes that this would shatter the opposition-led National Assembly. The United States and most other countries consider Guaidó Venezuela's legitimate president, calling Maduro's January re-election a sham. The U.S. State Department said Zambrano's detention is "illegal and inexcusable," and warned that "if he is not freed immediately, there will be consequences." Catherine Garcia

May 5, 2019

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó opened up about errors he made last week when he tried to wrest control of the government from President Nicolás Maduro.

Guaidó, in an exclusive interview with The Washington Post, suggested he thought he was going to procure support from a larger swath of Venezuela's military forces, which would then lead to Maduro stepping down without incident. But there were not, in the end, enough defections and Maduro was able to quell the unrest.

In the interview, Guaidó thanked the United States for their support and said he would consider accepting national security adviser John Bolton's offer for military intervention. The Post called them Guaidó's strongest remarks to date on the possibility of U.S. military intervention.

While he said the option of U.S. military aid is "great news," he confirmed he would not support a unilateral process. Any U.S. intervention, the Post reports, would have to occur in unison with Venezuelan forces that turned against Maduro.

"I think today there are many Venezuelan soldiers that want to put an end to [leftist guerrillas], and help humanitarian aid get in, who would be happy to receive cooperation to end usurpation," he told the Post. "And if that includes the cooperation of honorable countries like the United States, I think that would be an option." Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

May 2, 2019

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó conceded Wednesday that this week's anti-government protests did not yet have the backing of enough military defectors to oust President Nicolás Maduro, CNN reports. Maduro has accused President Trump of orchestrating Guaidó's Tuesday "coup d'etat attempt." He called for supporters to show "utmost loyalty" and take to the streets to defend his socialist government. Maduro called for two "days of action" this weekend.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Russia of propping up Maduro, and said the U.S., which backs Guaidó as the South American nation's leader, was leaving all options on the table, including military action. Russia said the U.S. was spreading false information in an "information war." Harold Maass

May 1, 2019

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó on Wednesday addressed a crowd of supporters in Caracas one day after calling for the beginning of an uprising to wrest control from President Nicolás Maduro and his government.

Guaidó admitted to the crowd that he did not win enough military support, as only a small amount of troops defected from Maduro, who claimed victory on Tuesday evening. But Guaidó was far from ready to throw in the towel. "We have to insist that all the armed forces [show up] together," he said, CNN reports. "We are not asking for a confrontation among brothers," he added. Instead, he just wants the military to be "on the side of the people."

Guiadó also called for daily protests until the opposition reaches its "objective." He did not struggle to rally protesters on Wednesday, as a large demonstration sprouted up in Caracas during the day with thousands gathering in the street. Similar scenes reportedly took place throughout the country.

As it so often does, Maduro's government staged counter-demonstrations, encouraging what CNN writes is a "sizable portion" of the population to march in support of the United Socialist Party. Tim O'Donnell

May 1, 2019

After a confusing 24 hours of dueling protests and rival claims of military backing, Venezuela ended up Wednesday morning roughly where it started the day Tuesday: Deeply divided, with President Nicolás Maduro in charge.

Maduro, sitting next to the heads of the armed forces, said in a televised address Tuesday night that his troops had thwarted a putsch by Venezuela's "coup-mongering far right," backed by the "deranged" Trump administration. He said the "serious crimes" of the opposition would "not go unpunished" and denied Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's assertions that he had been on the cusp of fleeing to Cuba, saying, "Señor Pompeo, please."

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó, recognized as interim president by the U.S. and much of Europe and Latin America, said that the "peaceful rebellion" was not over, and he urged supporters to flood the streets again on Wednesday for the "largest march" in Venezuelan history. "We know that Maduro does not have the backing or the respect of the armed forces," Guaidó said in a message posted to social media Tuesday evening. "We have seen that protest yields results."

Guaidó's video message "was a motivational pep talk that felt hollow," and his claim that Maduro lacks military support was belied by Maduro's address, writes BBC South America correspondent Katy Watson. "This is seen by many as another failed attempt by the opposition to take power," though Maduro's "future is not secure either."

"There's no doubt that across the country, and within its governing bureaucracy, there is profound discontent with Maduro and broad support for a transition," Bloomberg News reports. But Tuesday's events were "so bizarre — with Guaidó seemingly lacking the military might to have any chance at all — that it was hard to understand the day's events." Something didn't go right for the opposition, and "while likely not a fatal blow to Guaidó and the three-month-old push to unseat Maduro, it was certainly the biggest setback yet." Peter Weber

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