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US offers to remove sanctions for Venezuelan military leaders who defy Maduro

Washington is prepared to exempt Venezuelan military leaders from punitive sanctions if they recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim leader, President Donald Trump’s national security advisor said Wednesday.

John Bolton took to Twitter to urge senior military officers to ‘make the right choice’ and align with Guaido instead of the embattled President Nicolas Maduro. 

‘The U.S. will consider sanctions off-ramps for any Venezuelan senior military officer that stands for democracy and recognizes the constitutional government of President Juan Guaido,’ Mr Bolton wrote.

‘If not, the international financial circle will be closed off completely,’ he added.

The US is prepared to lift sanctions for Venezuelan military leaders if they recognize Juan Guaido as the rightful interim president, Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton said

Mr Bolton took to Twitter to make the announcement, urging Venezuelan military officers to 'make the right choice' and align with Guaido instead of embattled President Nicolas Maduro

Mr Bolton took to Twitter to make the announcement, urging Venezuelan military officers to ‘make the right choice’ and align with Guaido instead of embattled President Nicolas Maduro

The remarks align with those of Trump, who pledged in his State of the Union address Tuesday night to ramp up pressure on Maduro’s socialist government, telling Congress that ‘we stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom.’

Trump swiftly recognized Guaido, the leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly, after he proclaimed himself acting president of Venezuela last month, and has not ruled out a military intervention in the crisis-wracked country.

Guaido has since been recognized by more than 40 countries, including the UK, France and Spain.

Trump has appeared to relish the fight against Maduro, a leftist firebrand fond of criticizing US foreign policy, who presides over a crumbling economy in which food and basic supplies are scarce and millions have fled to neighboring countries.

US Senator Marco Rubio, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Cuba, whose communist government backs Maduro, also suggested Washington offer protections for those who turn against Maduro.

Backing: So far, the Venezuelan army has remained supportive of President Nicolas Maduro

Backing: So far, the Venezuelan army has remained supportive of President Nicolas Maduro

Two Colombian migration official walk on the Tienditas Bridge on the border between Cucuta, Colombia, and Urena, Venezuela, to inspect the blockage set up by the Venezuelan military  ahead of a much needed humanitarian aid shipment

Two Colombian migration official walk on the Tienditas Bridge on the border between Cucuta, Colombia, and Urena, Venezuela, to inspect the blockage set up by the Venezuelan military ahead of a much needed humanitarian aid shipment

President Nicolas Maduro says he believes humanitarian aid is a forerunner of a US-led invasion and says he will therefore not let the shipment enter from Colombia

President Nicolas Maduro says he believes humanitarian aid is a forerunner of a US-led invasion and says he will therefore not let the shipment enter from Colombia

He tweeted that Venezuelan military leaders like Vladimir Padrino, the minister of defense, ‘can play an important role in restoring democracy’ in Venezuela.

‘And if they do, the U.S. & international community should honor the amnesty offered by the legitimate government,’ Rubio said.

This comes as Venezuelan army continues its blockage of a bridge on the border with Colombia ahead of an anticipated humanitarian aid dispatch. 

Venezuelan military officers used a tanker truck and huge shipping container to block access to the Tienditas bridge, which links Cucuta, Colombia to Urena, Venezuela. 

Maduro claims humanitarian aid is a forerunner of a US-led invasion, and defended his decision to order a barricade of the bridge by saying that ‘no one will enter, not one invading soldier.’ 

Opposition leader Juan Guaido, now recognised as interim president by the West and the US, claims that up to 300,000 people face death if the aid being blocked by Maduro’s army is not delivered. 

The opposition-dominated National Assembly, led by presidential challenger Guaido, had warned the armed forces that blocking aid would mean crossing a ‘red line’.

Venezuela's opposition leader and self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido claims that up to 300,000 people face death if the aid being blocked by Maduro's army is not delivered.

Venezuela’s opposition leader and self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido claims that up to 300,000 people face death if the aid being blocked by Maduro’s army is not delivered.

Starving: Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans desperately need the aid set to come through via Colombia. Pictured is a starving young patient at Caracas' main children's hospita

Starving: Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans desperately need the aid set to come through via Colombia. Pictured is a starving young patient at Caracas’ main children’s hospita

‘You know there’s a red line, you know well there’s a limit, you know that medicines, food and medical supplies are that limit,’ lawmaker Miguel Pizarro said in a message to the military. 

Britain, France, Germany and Spain were among 20 EU nations to side with Guaido this week after Maduro ignored their demands that he announce new presidential elections by February 3.

Guaido is trying to force Maduro from power, set up a transitional government and hold a new presidential poll.

Under Maduro’s stewardship, oil-dependent Venezuela has plunged into an economic crisis, suffering from hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine.

Experts have said US oil sanctions are ‘set to have a broad impact’ with the government facing ‘the prospect of running out of gasoline, which could serve as another social catalyst.’

Guaido branded Maduro illegitimate over his reelection in May, which the opposition boycotted after several of its leaders were either jailed, barred or forced into exile.

The US and EU dismissed the elections as a fraud.

Maduro has flatly rejected demands for new elections, telling Spanish television he would not ‘cave in to pressure.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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