United States revokes Venezuela visas, rejects dialogue with Maduro

Maduro on Wednesday hit back at a tweet by United States national security adviser John Bolton that said "any Venezuelan senior military officer that stands for democracy and recognizes the constitutional government of President Juan Guaido" would not face USA sanctions. The US is also reportedly holding direct communications with members of Venezuela's military, urging them to switch their allegiance in exchange for sanctions relief, or to face even stronger penalties.

USA humanitarian aid destined for Venezuela is now sitting in a warehouse on the Colombian border.

Members of the Venezuelan army and National Guard block the main access to the Tienditas International Bridge that links Colombia and Venezuela, near Urena, Venezuela, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido vowed to use the bridge to deliver the aid being pledged by Trump and Canada.

"No one will enter, not one invading soldier", he insisted.

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó, the leader of the Venezuelan legislature, declared himself interim president and called for fair elections in response to the turmoil caused by Maduro's socialist government.

This is the first aid to arrive and would only last for a short time, but officials said it would benefit thousands of people unable to get hold of basic medicine and food inside Venezuela. Maduro's security forces used freight containers and a tanker trailer to block the global bridge near where the aid is arriving.

More than 40 nations including the United States, major European powers and most of Latin America have recognised Guaido as the country's rightful head of state.

"I am sure that Moscow and Beijing know the situation in Venezuela really well: Maduro doesn't have the popular support and he can't stabilise the economy, which produced the world's largest inflation of two million percent".

When asked how US aid might make it into Venezuela, a spokesman for the US Agency for International Development said the United States was working with Guaido on a plan, but did not disclose any details.

Venezuela's Constituent Assembly was established by Maduro in 2017 to replace the country's opposition-controlled National Assembly. "Venezuela is run by elected President Nicolas Maduro", he emphasized.

"We reject the partisan and ideological nature of the document", Maduro said on Friday, adding that he would always welcome dialog with anyone.

While the 35-year-old has the support of powerful western nations, other global powers such as Russia, China and Turkey continue to back the Maduro regime and have denounced what they call foreign meddling in Venezuela's internal affairs.

He claims that as head of the opposition-led National Assembly he is Venezuela's rightful leader because Maduro's re-election a year ago was a sham.

The United States is imposing a ban on the travel of the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly's members to the USA, said a US envoy on Venezuela-related issues.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said Germany had earmarked €5 million ($5.72 million) worth of assistance for Venezuela.

  • Joey Payne