US Imposes Sanctions Against Venezuela's PDVSA

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro
Under pressure over video, Venezuela's Guaido says met officials

29 January, 2019

Guaido proclaimed himself interim president on January 23, though Maduro, who has led the oil-rich nation since 2013 and has the support of the armed forces, has refused to stand down.

Venezuela centrist opposition leader Juan Guaidó, left, has made a claim to the presidency and called for elections as the leftist incumbent Nicolas Maduro faces massive protests against his rule across the country.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is confronting an unprecedented challenge to his authority after Guaido declared himself interim president, citing a fraudulent election.

Ruling left-wing SYRIZA party issued its own statement last week in which it expressed support for "the legitimate President" Maduro.

Former senior foreign policy adviser to President Bill Clinton says that the Trump administration needs to focus on supporting the Venezuelan opposition.

The United States, Canada and many Latin American countries which had refused to recognize Maduro's May 2018 re-election immediately endorsed Guaido as the interim president, setting up the tense showdown in crisis-torn Venezuela.

The telegenic Guaido declared himself Venezuela's temporary president on Wednesday at a rally that drew hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans.

Moreover, according to the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, any purchases of Venezuelan oil by the US companies will be transfered into the blocked account.

"This is not the USA", he said. "We now call upon Nicolas Maduro to cede power to the National Assembly, the only remaining democratically elected institution in Venezuela, in line with that country's constitution".

"It is time for every other nation to pick a side".

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The preferred outcome, Rubio said, is that Maduro leaves office and that within 30 to 45 days, Venezuela holds a new presidential election.

In an interview with CNN that aired Sunday, Maduro said he was open to a dialogue with the United States but that it was improbable - but not impossible - that he meet Trump.

There was no immediate response from the U.S.

The country's foreign ministry issued a statement saying that far-left President Nicolas Maduro was suspending the expulsion of United States diplomats, to allow for a 30-day window to negotiate with American officials.

Last year, Maduro was re-elected in what the USA called "a sham election", which the European Union said was neither free nor fair.

Recognition of Guaido by the U.S., Venezuela's biggest trade partner, already threatens to heap more misery on the country's crisis-stricken economy, and a similar move by European nations would complicate matters further.

The Trump administration announced it was recognizing the 35-year-old leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly quickly after his oath, leading Maduro to say that he was breaking all diplomatic ties with the United States and expelling US diplomats.

Then there's the $65 billion in Venezuela's and state oil company PDVSA's outstanding bonds, nearly none of which are being paid and whose prices rallied 25 percent on news of Guaido's challenge to Maduro's authority.

Economists agree that the longer the standoff between the US -backed Guaido and Maduro drags on, the more regular Venezuelans are likely to suffer.

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