crisis in venezuela
March 12, 2019

On Monday night, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. is withdrawing the remaining staff from America's embassy in Venezuela, citing the country's further descent into chaos after four days of blackouts. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro ordered the U.S. to withdraw all embassy staff in late January, after the Trump administration recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela's legitimate leader, but he relented and only dependents of embassy staff were recalled to Washington. Now, the remaining diplomats will be out by the end of the week, Pompeo said.

The blackouts in the oil-rich nation have exacerbated hardships, leaving many Venezuelans without water, fresh food, or communications. Venezuela's oil infrastructure has also taken a hit. Peter Weber

February 26, 2019

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is accusing the United States of "trying to fabricate a crisis to justify political escalation and a military intervention in Venezuela to bring a war to South America."

Venezuela is in crisis, and Maduro is ignoring calls to step down. The U.S. recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela's interim president, and on Monday, Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Bogota to announce that "stronger sanctions" would be imposed against Maduro. He also said the U.S. would give $56 million more in humanitarian aid for Venezuelan citizens who are dealing with food and medicine shortages.

In an interview with ABC News' Tom Llamas on Monday, Maduro said the U.S. really just cares about Venezuela's oil. "The extremist Ku Klux Klan government that Donald Trump directs wants a war over oil, and more than just oil," he told Llamas. Venezuela is "a pacifist, humble nation" that "has the right to peace," Maduro added, and he is "prepared for direct dialogue" with the U.S. government.

Maduro has strong opinions about U.S. leaders. Trump lies all the time, he said, and the people who surround him are "bad." Pence is a "man that does not know world politics," while National Security Adviser John Bolton is "an extremist," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is "a CIA agent that has an antiquated scheme of old intelligence from the Cold War," and special representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams is "a liar that trafficked coca, arms, drugs in Central America and the world and brought war to the United States." Catherine Garcia

February 22, 2019

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's fight against foreign aid has turned even more deadly.

U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó has welcomed humanitarian aid for the impoverished country, but Maduro announced the closure of the country's border with Brazil on Thursday in an attempt to keep it out. Civilians still tried to keep border traffic flowing on Friday, but soldiers fired back against the operation, leaving at least one dead and 12 injured, The Washington Post reports.

Maduro claimed victory last year in an election widely seen to be fraudulent, while Guaidó declared himself the legitimate interim leader as he and the U.S. continue to call for new elections. Since then, Maduro has maintained that any aid is an attempt to undermine his presidency and set up a blockade at the Colombian border last week. Guaidó said some aid did make it into the country.

Still, Maduro moved again to block aid by shutting down the Brazilian border, and said he was considering a "total closure" on the border with Colombia as well, per Al Jazeera. An indigenous community kept a checkpoint open on the border for aid to flow through, but a military convoy confronted the group Friday morning. Community members "sought to block the military vehicles by standing in front of them" and the military opened fire, "wounding at least 12 people, four of them seriously," the Post writes. At least one woman has died so far. Kathryn Krawczyk

February 18, 2019

While speaking in Miami on Monday, President Trump said the Venezuelan military "must not" follow President Nicolas Maduro's orders to block humanitarian aid from coming into the country, and they are "risking their future" by supporting him.

Venezuela is dealing with hyperinflation, and many people aren't getting enough food, medicine, and other basic necessities. Trump said the U.S. delivered aid two days ago, but it's stuck in Colombia because "Maduro has blocked this life-saving aid from entering the country. He would rather see his people starve than give them aid. Maduro is not a Venezuelan patriot, he is a Cuban puppet."

Trump wants the military to start backing opposition leader Juan Guaido, who says that last year's election was a sham and he is the interim president. "We seek a peaceful transition of power, but all options are open," Trump said. Catherine Garcia

February 12, 2019

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido announced Monday evening that despite a military blockade, he was able to get some humanitarian aid into the country.

People in Venezuela are experiencing food shortages and going without medicine and basic necessities, but President Nicolas Maduro ordered the military to put barricades up on the bridge linking Venezuela to Colombia in order to keep humanitarian aid out; he said Venezuelans aren't "beggars," and this is an attempt to undermine his presidency. For several days, the United States and other countries have been sending aid to the border town of Cucuta, Colombia.

Guaido says that last year's presidential election was a sham, and he is the legitimate leader; the United States and dozens of other countries recognize Guaido as Venezuela's president. He didn't reveal how he was able to get the aid, which included nutritional supplements, or where it came from, but did say Maduro was committing a "crime against humanity" by not letting letting aid across the border. Catherine Garcia

February 6, 2019

Venezuelan troops have set up barricades on a bridge by the country's western border with Colombia, in an attempt to block humanitarian aid.

The aid is on its way from Colombia, with a convoy headed for the Tienditas International Bridge, which connects the two countries. There are tankers and containers now blocking the bridge, so traffic can't get through. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó said this is a "test" for the military, with troops having to decide if they will let the aid through or follow orders to keep it out.

In late January, Guaidó swore himself in as president, saying that because last year's election was a sham, Nicolas Maduro wasn't the actual winner. The United States and several other countries recognize Guaidó as president, and have donated millions in aid. Because of hyperinflation, people are going without food, medicine, and basic necessities, but Maduro has said Venezuelans aren't "beggars," and refuses to let humanitarian aid into the country. Catherine Garcia

February 4, 2019

On Monday, several European nations, including Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, and Sweden, recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country's legitimate interim president, withdrawing support from President Nicolas Maduro. The U.S. and most South American nations recognized Guaidó as Venezuela's interim leader after he swore himself in as president on Jan. 23. European Union nations had given Maduro a deadline of Sunday to call new elections. Because he didn't, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted, Britain has thrown its recognition to Guaidó "until credible elections can be held. Let's hope this takes us closer to ending humanitarian crisis."

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was the first European leader to announce the shift in policy, telling reporters that "we are working for the return of full democracy in Venezuela: human rights, elections, and no more political prisoners." Because of Spain's strong economic and cultural ties to Venezuela, Sanchez's decision was seen as an especially hard blow to Maduro.

In an interview with Spanish TV station Antena 3 broadcast Sunday, Maduro rejected the EU deadline. "We don't accept ultimatums from anyone," he said. "I refuse to call for elections now — there will be elections in 2024." Maduro suggested the power struggle could end in civil war, depending on "the level of madness and aggressiveness of the northern empire [the U.S.] and its Western allies."

Later on Monday, the Lima Group — Canada and 13 Latin American nations — is meeting to discuss how to increase pressure on Maduro to hold new elections and how to aid the people of Venezuela. Most members of the group favor pressuring Maduro to quit and hand power to Guaidó, but Mexico opposes any measures to force Maduro out. Russia, China, and Turkey also back Maduro. "The most important issue now is to get Europe in line and to deepen the isolation of Venezuela and its backers," a Colombian government official told Reuters on Sunday. Peter Weber

January 31, 2019

In a New York Times op-ed published late Wednesday, Venezuelan opposition leader and U.S.-backed interim president Juan Guaidó made his case that he, rather than President Nicolas Maduro, is the constitutionally legitimate leader of Venezuela. The opposition's plan to manage Maduro's "exit with the minimum of bloodshed," he wrote, is to shore up the opposition-led National Assembly, "consolidate the support of the international community," form "a transitional government," and hold "free elections." Guaidó added:

The transition will require support from key military contingents. We have had clandestine meetings with members of the armed forces and the security forces. We have offered amnesty to all those who are found not guilty of crimes against humanity. The military's withdrawal of support from Mr. Maduro is crucial to enabling a change in government, and the majority of those in service agree that the country's recent travails are untenable. [Juan Guaidó, The New York Times]

Guaidó "did not say who in the military he had been speaking with or what their positions were," BBC News reports. "Venezuela's top military representative to the U.S., Col. José Luis Silva, has defected — but senior military figures in Venezuela have supported Mr. Maduro," and many of them hold influential posts in his government. So far, the U.S. and more than 20 other nations have recognized Guaidó as interim president and the European Union says it will do so if Maduro doesn't announce new elections by Sunday, while Russia, China, Iran, and Turkey are among the countries that back Maduro.

Maduro told Russia's RIA news agency that he is prepared to hold talks with the opposition "for the good of Venezuela," but Guaidó writes in the Times that while "Maduro and his henchmen disingenuously propose 'dialogue'" when repression fails, "we have become immune to such manipulation. There are no more stunts left for them to pull." Read the entire op-ed at The New York Times. Peter Weber

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