Fri, Feb 14, 2020 - Page 7 News List

Guaido defends sanctions on Maduro

VENEZUELAN ‘TRAITOR’:Juan Guaido said he would hold the president responsible for the fate of his uncle, who officials accused of attempting to import explosives

AFP, CARACAS

People march in a Youth Day parade in Caracas on Wednesday.

Photo: Reuters

Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaido on Wednesday defended foreign sanctions against his country 24 hours after scuffles at Simon Bolivar International Airport in La Guaira involving state airline employees shouting “fascist.”

Guaido returned on Tuesday from a three-week international tour that took him to the US, Canada, Colombia and Europe. He was met by Conviasa workers who expressed anger at sanctions placed on the state airline company by the US on Friday last week.

The US action criminalizing transactions with the flag carrier is the latest of many sanctions by Washington aimed at toppling Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s regime, particularly by cutting his government’s oil revenue.

One protester appeared to douse Guaido with soda.

Speaking to journalists after a legislative session in a Caracas plaza, the opposition leader defended the use of sanctions.

They are “the free world’s tools to confront regimes [that] violate human rights, torturers and murderers,” Guaido said.

The sanctions imposed on the top officials in Maduro’s government were an “effective” form of pressure, Guaido said.

Guaido’s uncle Juan Marquez, who vanished after flying back with him, had been arrested, top Maduro ally Diosdado Cabello said, accusing him of smuggling explosives.

On his state television program, Cabello said that Marquez was detained for allegedly carrying C4 explosives hidden inside flashlights and perfume refills, and was wearing a bulletproof vest.

Guaido had denounced the “disappearance” of his uncle at the airport and said he would hold Maduro responsible for whatever happened to him.

Maduro retains the support of Venezuela’s military and has resisted Guaido’s challenge, even as the US ramps up the pressure.

“Yes, there will be more sanctions for the criminals and everyone that supports the dictatorship,” said Guaido, who on Tuesday had told supporters to “look out for new announcements.”

For the second time in less than a year, Guaido flouted a travel ban imposed by Maduro’s regime to meet with allies around the world, including US President Donald Trump.

Guaido sprang to prominence in January last year, when he declared himself the country’s acting president in a direct challenge to Maduro.

He derived such authority from his position as the speaker of the National Assembly, after the legislature declared Maduro’s 2018 re-election invalid following a poll widely denounced as rigged.

Lawmakers called Maduro a “usurper,” while more than 50 countries recognized Guaido as interim president. He retained his assembly post last month, despite a standoff in which troops stopped him from entering the legislature.

Although it sits on the world’s largest proven oil reserves, Venezuela’s economy has collapsed under Maduro’s leadership and the country has suffered five years of recession.

The UN says that more than 4.5 million people have left the country due to its crisis, while inflation is the highest in the world, according to the IMF.

Maduro told supporters celebrating World Youth Day that “traitors go abroad to ask for sanctions against the people.”

Cabello said that the sanctions had affected Venezuela’s ability to buy food and medicine.

Last year, Guaido tried to force in humanitarian aid from Colombia, Brazil and Curacao, but under Maduro’s orders the military blocked entry points to keep it out.

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