US urges businesses to stay away from trading with Venezuela as it  continues to urge Maduro to step down

THE US is heavily putting pressure on Venezuela as it is now urging influential players in the business world to stay away from doing business with the embattled nation.

Hot on the heels of the sanctions announced on Monday, national security advisor, John Bolton took to social media and tweeted on Wednesday: “My advice to bankers, brokers, traders, facilitators, and other businesses: don’t deal in gold, oil, or other Venezuelan commodities being stolen from the Venezuelan people by the Maduro mafia. We stand ready to continue to take action.”

EU recognizes Guadio as Venezuela’s president

A day after Bolton’s strike, the European Parliament(EP) has officially announced their recognition of Juan Guaido, as the President of Venezuela after a session held on Thursday.

EP’s move seems to bolster US’s stance and bring down Maduro’s core pillars.

Venezuela is currently on the edge as President Nicholas Maduro refuses to step down as he is accused of fraudulently stealing the elections. Several countries in the international community are refusing to recognise his presidency.

Bolton’s tweet comes after he earlier this week said there can probably be assets worth $11 billion that will be lost in the next year as a result of the US sanctions on the Venezuela state-run oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PdVSA) on Monday.

The sanction announcement sees about $7 billion of assets being blocked.

“PdVSA has long been a vehicle for embezzlement, for corruption for Venezuelan officials and businessmen. Today’s designation of PdVSA will help prevent further diversion of Venezuela’s assets by Maduro, and will preserve these assets for the people of Venezuela where they belong,” said Steve Mnuchin, the US secretary of the Treasury, announcing the sanctions from the White House briefing room.

President Donald Trump has recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate interim president of Venezuela last week. The two spoke on the phone on Wednesday, with Trump emphasizing support to Guaido’s “fight to regain democracy.”

The US has since continued to intensify pressure on Maduro to step down, favoring the opposition to take over.

The latest sanctions on PdVSA would require all purchases of Venezuelan oil by US entities to flow into blocked accounts – money would be released only to legitimate Venezuela leaders, the US officials said.

Russia, backing Maduro along with China against the opposition, denounced the US sanctions on Tuesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the new American measures blocking all US revenue from Venezuela’s national oil company were the latest example of Washington using economic sanctions to further their commercial interests.

Meanwhile, the same day saw a Russian passenger plane, a Boeing 777, flying from Moscow to Caracas. This got social media on a frenzy as it was speculated the plane has brought mercenaries who are there to escort Maduro into exile or was loading up gold.

PdVSA, the fourth largest crude oil supplier to the US, began calling customers ahead of the sanctions, urging them to swap foreign fuel and other products for its Venezuelan crude cargoes, in an attempt to sidestep the US sanctions, according to sources present at the talks.

There has not been any official comment from PdVSA.

On Tuesday, Venezuela’s Supreme Court imposed a travel ban on the self-declared interim president Guaido and froze his bank accounts.

Earlier that day, Bolton tweeted: “There will be serious consequences for those who attempt to subvert democracy and harm Guaido.” The move came despite a warning of “serious consequences.”

Havoc-wreaking apart a country with political and economic challenges

At least 40 Venezuelans have died in recent protests over the power struggle between Maduro and Guaido, according a Tuesday announcement made by the  UN Human Rights Office.

As the casualties increase two defectors from the Venezuelan army, Carlos Guillen Martinez and Josue Hidalgo Azuaje called on President Trump to provide arms for the hundreds of army defectors in Venezuela, who are ready to revolt against Maduro, according to a report by CNN.

“As Venezuelan soldiers, we are making a request to the US to support us, in logistical terms, with communication, with weapons, so we can realise Venezuelan freedom,” said Martinez to CNN.

Military intervention can be sooner

A White House spokesman said all options, including military intervention, are on the table regarding the situation in Venezuela after Bolton’s notepad was photographed reading “5 000 troops to Colombia” when he and Mnuchin announced the US sanctions on Monday.

Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said the military is “ready to sacrifice lives” for its homeland, after Venezuela’s military attaché in Washington, Colonel José Luis Silva, defected on Saturday and publicly backed Guaido.

Venezuelan opposition offers amnesty to troops


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