crisis in venezuela
September 16, 2019

Talks between Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's government and the country's opposition party are officially done, six weeks after Maduro's representatives stopped attending the discussions.

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó made the announcement on Sunday. The talks, mediated by Norway and held in Barbados, were called as a way to try to end the escalating political crisis engulfing Venezuela. Millions of people have left the country, due to poverty, inflation, and food and medicine shortages. Guaidó, the leader of Venezuela's National Assembly, said Maduro was not fairly elected in 2018, and he is the legitimate president, an assertion backed by the United States and dozens of other countries.

The opposition tried to launch a military uprising in the spring, but it failed, and Maduro has retained power, refusing to step down. In August, his representatives left the talks, citing President Trump's new sanctions against the country. When talks were still taking place, the opposition called for a new, free election, but Maduro's representatives would not even broach the subject, Reuters reports. Catherine Garcia

August 12, 2019

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó announced on Twitter Sunday night that on Monday, President Nicolás Maduro's government plans on dissolving the opposition-run National Assembly.

The country has long been in turmoil, with the United States and other countries accusing Maduro of holding fraudulent elections last year and recognizing Guaidó as the rightful president. Guaidó leads the National Assembly, and says the Constituent Assembly, which is a parallel legislature run by the ruling Socialist Party, also aims to "illegally convene parliamentary elections or even begin mass persecution of legislators. If they do what they intend to do tomorrow, the result will be a phase of escalated conflict." Parliamentary elections aren't scheduled until December 2020.

The head of the Constituent Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, tweeted that the session will take place tomorrow, and if Guaidó is "scared" he should "buy a dog," Reuters reports. Cabello also said there is a "crisis of justice," and "these traitorous worms are leaving in a stampede." Catherine Garcia

August 6, 2019

President Trump issued an executive order late Monday freezing all U.S.-based assets of Venezuela's government, sharply escalating economic measures aimed at pushing President Nicolás Maduro from power. The executive order immediately applies to all property and assets of Venezuela's government and its officials, prohibits any U.S. companies or individuals from dealing with them, and threatens retaliation for any foreign company or individual that does business with them. Currently, China and Russia still conduct significant business with Venezuela.

Under the new order, Venezuela joins Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria as the only countries under full U.S. embargo. In a letter to Congress, Trump said the new steps were needed "in light of the continued usurpation of power by the illegitimate Nicolás Maduro regime, as well as the regime's human rights abuses, arbitrary arrest and detention of Venezuelan citizens, curtailment of free press, and ongoing attempts to undermine Interim President Juan Guaidó," whom the U.S. and other Western nations have recognized as Venezuela's legitimate leader.

Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, is scheduled to elaborate on the measures in a speech Tuesday in Lima, Peru, at a gathering of international backers of Guaidó. Maduro accused the U.S. of trying to sabotage ongoing talks with the opposition sponsored by Finland. Peter Weber

July 16, 2019

The Trump administration considers Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro an illegitimate leader who is causing havoc in his country, but does not plan on granting temporary protected status to Venezuelans.

The United States grants temporary protected status to people who flee from countries torn apart by armed conflicts and natural disasters, keeping them safe from deportation. The Trump administration supports the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, and routinely criticizes Maduro for causing economic instability in his country, which is suffering from food and medicine shortages. The United Nations, which says the Maduro regime has killed thousands of citizens, estimates the humanitarian crisis could displace as many as 8.2 million Venezuelans by the end of 2020.

In a letter sent to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Tuesday, Acting Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli said the government "continues to monitor the situation in Venezuela," but will not extend temporary protected status to any Venezuelans in the country. Durbin and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said in a statement that Trump "cannot have it both ways. He cannot warn Americans that Venezuela is so dangerous they should avoid traveling there and then turn around and tell Venezuelans in the U.S. they are forced to return."

In 2018, close to 30,000 Venezuelans applied for protection in the United States, The Guardian reports, while 336 were deported between October 2017 and September 2018. Catherine Garcia

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

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