United States sanctions Venezuela bank over Guaido aide's arrest

Trump met with the leaders of St Lucia, Haiti, the Bahamas and Jamaica at his private residence on Friday for a two hour meeting to discuss among other issues the ongoing political and economic situation in Venezuela, where Washington is at the forefront of efforts to remove President Nicolas Maduro from office.

About a dozen heavily armed officers stormed into the home of Roberto Marrero yesterday in an escalation of the country's political crisis. The five have either denounced Maduro or joined more than 50 countries in recognizing Juan Guaido as the rightful interim leader of the nation.

Later, President Nicolas Maduro said he would "not be afraid to fight terrorist groups to put them in jail".

Turkey was culpable for continuing to deal in Venezuelan gold, contended Pence, and he blamed China's refusal to allow the Venezuelan representative to attend the Inter-American Development Bank's annual meeting.

President Trump has said tougher sanctions could occur and that "all options are on the table", a remark that Maduro and his ally, Russia, have interpreted as a possible prelude to military intervention. We call for his immediate release.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says Trump will use the meeting to thank the leaders for their support for peace and democracy in Venezuela and discuss potential opportunities for energy investment. "He should be freed immediately", Guaido tweeted.

"Earlier this week, the United States also placed sanctions on Minerven, Venezuela's state-owned gold-mining company".

The decision comes just day after US National Security Adviser John Bolton threatened Venezuela with response to the detention of Roberto Marrero, calling his arrest a "big mistake".

The Jamaican prime minister, according to the Associated Press, also said that at their meeting with Trump he learned that a representative from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a USA government agency that helps American businesses invest in emerging markets, would be visiting the region and the five countries.

Mr Guaido said that Mr Marrero had been taken by Sebin, the Venezuelan intelligence agency, and was being detained at an unknown location.

Guaido traveled around South America in February to drum up diplomatic support, defying a travel ban imposed by the pro-government Supreme Court. Maduro alleges the blackouts were caused by USA -directed sabotage, though US officials and the Venezuelan opposition said state mismanagement and corruption caused the infrastructure collapse.

Guaido, who heads the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself interim president on January 23, charging that Maduro's re-election last May was illegitimate.

Venezuela's Interior Minister has confirmed the arrest of self-proclaimed "interim president" Juan Guaido's chief of staff. The move would eventually open lines of credit to Venezuela should Maduro step down.

"The message from this meeting is that the United States wants to encourage and promote stronger relationship with the region", Holness said.

  • Joey Payne