cloudy.png
Tuesday March 31st, 2020 6:48PM

The Latest: Pence praises DEA help in convict Maduro allies

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local):

6.35 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has congratulated the Drug Enforcement Administration for helping bring drug trafficking convictions against several members of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's family and inner circle.

The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on Maduro's socialist regime and it is backing the claim to Venezuela's presidency by Juan Guaido, who heads the South American nation's opposition-controlled National Assembly.

Speaking to several dozen DEA employees, Pence said Thursday: "Your investigations have targeted the corrupt narco-dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro and helped bring drug trafficking indictments and convictions against several members of Maduro's family and inner circle."

Two nephews of Maduro's wife were found guilty in New York of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. and sentenced in 2016 to 18 years in prison.

___

6:15 p.m.

The United States strongly rejects offers from Mexico, Uruguay and the Vatican to mediate a dialogue between embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the head of the country's opposition-controlled congress, Juan Guaido.

A senior U.S. administration official explicitly mentioned the three in a briefing Thursday and added that "we reject any talks of any type of efforts that would allow Maduro to maintain himself in power."

The official repeated the U.S. government's position that Maduro is no longer the president of the country. Canada and many Latin American nations also have recognized Guaido as Venezuela's interim president, arguing that Maduro's re-election last May was invalid because his strongest opponents were barred from running.

The U.S. official briefed reporters on the condition of not being quoted by name.

Mexico and Uruguay announced Wednesday that they will hold an international conference Feb. 7 to discuss the Venezuela crisis. Both countries have not recognized Guaido as president.

—Luis Alonso Lugo

___

5:30 p.m.

A U.S. official says the United States is ready to deliver humanitarian aid to Venezuela whenever and however is decided by Juan Guaido, the head of the opposition-controlled congress who is challenging President Nicolas Maduro.

The senior U.S. administration official says Maduro is the only obstacle to delivering medicine, food and other basic goods, which are all in extremely short supply in Venezuela because of a devastating economic crunch that has driven at least 3 million people to flee the country in recent years.

Guaido declared himself interim president last week and was quickly recognized by the U.S., Canada and many Latin American nations. The official says Guaido thus has the last word on "how, when and in what manner that aid enters the country."

The official briefed reporters Thursday on the condition of not being quoted by name.

Maduro has refused to receive any international aid, arguing it would be interference in Venezuelan affairs.

—Luis Alonso Lugo

___

5:15 p.m.

Venezuela's police force is denying that agents from a special operations unit visited opposition leader Juan Guaido's family home.

In a statement on Twitter, the head of the national police says accusations that officers went to Guaido's home Thursday are "totally FALSE."

Earlier in the day, Guaido said agents from a feared police unit known for its brutal tactics arrived at his home asking for his wife. He accused police of trying to intimidate his family as he challenges Nicolas Maduro's claim to Venezuela's presidency.

Guaido said his young daughter was inside and he warned officers that if anything happened to her he would hold them accountable.

The pro-Maduro chief prosecutor's office has initiated an investigation into Guaido's anti-government activities and the government-stacked Supreme Court has barred him from leaving the country and frozen his bank accounts.

___

3 p.m.

The U.N. says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has responded to a letter sent via Twitter by the president of Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaido.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday that Guterres reiterated the offer of his "good offices" to find a political solution to the current crisis and emphasized his public concern about the situation and its impact on the Venezuelan people.

Guaido declared himself Venezuela's interim president last week and asked for international humanitarian assistance coordinated by the U.N. in the letter dated Jan. 26.

Dujarric said Guterres responded that "the United Nations is ready to increase its activities in Venezuela in the areas of humanitarian assistance and development."

But Dujarric said the secretary-general told Guaido that to do this the United Nations needs "the consent and the cooperation" of Nicolas Maduro's government, which is recognized by the U.N.

Dujarric said Guterres "again underscored that recognizing governments" is decided by the 193-member U.N. General Assembly, not the secretary-general.

The spokesman said Guterres' letter to Guaido was also sent to Venezuela's U.N. Mission and others who were copied on the letter sent by Guaido.

___

2:30 p.m.

A key U.S. customer for Venezuelan oil says it has stopped importing crude from the South American country due to recently imposed U.S. sanctions.

Valero Energy Corp. said it stopped taking deliveries of Venezuelan crude oil after the Trump administration slapped sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela S.A.

Valero Senior Vice President Gary Simmons said the San Antonio, Texas, refinery is focused on finding an alternative to cover its next 30-day supply plan. Simmons said Venezuela has supplied 20 percent of the heavy sour crude the company runs in its refineries.

He also said that Valero had been putting alternatives in place due to Venezuela's declining oil production but the company "still has some holes to fill in our supply plan."

Simmons spoke Thursday on a conference call with Wall Street analysts.

___

2 p.m.

Spain's state-run EFE news agency says three of its journalists have been freed after being detained overnight in Venezuela's capital.

EFE reported Thursday that the journalists are with Spain's assistant consul in Venezuela.

According to the news agency, Colombian photographer Leonardo Munoz disappeared Wednesday while on assignment and two other journalists were later taken from their office by members of Venezuela's intelligence agency.

Two French journalists were also freed from detention on Thursday, and two Chilean journalists were ordered deported.

A union for Venezuelan journalists says that officials detained 19 journalists in January as the nation reels from political unrest.

Venezuelan foreign minister Jorge Arreaza says that "as in any country in the world" international journalists need to be accredited by the consulates in their countries in order to avoid "unnecessary inconveniences."

___

1:40 p.m.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said security forces showed up at his wife's apartment in an attempt to intimidate him.

"The dictatorship thinks it can intimidate us," Guaido said at the end of a speech Thursday to present the opposition's plan to rescue Venezuela from its economic crisis.

He said his 20-month-old daughter was at the Caracas apartment.

Neighbors immediately rushed to the high-rise apartment building banging pots and pans.

The police appeared to leave shortly after they arrived.

___

1 p.m.

A media outlet in France says two French journalists have been freed from detention in Venezuela.

The official Twitter account of the TMC television program Quotidien tweeted Thursday that Baptiste des Monstiers and Pierre Caille had been released by Venezuelan authorities and "will soon return to Paris."

The journalists were arrested Tuesday.

Earlier Thursday, the French Foreign Ministry said it had been in contact with Caracas and had demanded their release "since the moment our compatriots were arrested." It did not suggest a motive for the arrests or provide further information.

Jorge Arreaza, the foreign minister of embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, has blamed foreign journalists for entering the country without work permits.

___

12:50 p.m.

Venezuelan officials say security forces have taken down a "terrorists" group backed by political opponents plotting to assassinate embattled President Nicolas Maduro.

Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said Thursday that retired National Guard Col. Oswaldo Garcia Palomo was among those detained.

Garcia Palomo has been an outspoken critic of Maduro who for months has openly declared his intentions to amass a military force in exile to remove Maduro from power.

Palomo's wife Sorbay Padilla has said that she last heard from him Sunday after he entered the country clandestinely from Colombia.

Reverol accuses Colombian intelligence, the CIA and exiled Venezuelan lawmaker Julio Borges of being behind the alleged mercenary group.

He says security forces seized two rifles and 500 armbands bearing the letters "OC," which he says stands for "Operation Constitution."

___

10:45 a.m.

The French Foreign Ministry says it has demanded that Venezuelan authorities release two French journalists working for television channel TMC.

The journalists were arrested on Tuesday.

In a press statement Thursday, the Quai d'Orsay said it has been in contact with officials in Caracas "since the moment our compatriots were arrested."

It did not suggest a motive for the arrests or provide further information.

Jorge Arreaza, the foreign minister of embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, has blamed foreign journalists for entering the country without work permits.

The European Parliament meanwhile has called on the European Union's member states to recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president as Venezuela's political crisis deepens.

___

10:30 a.m.

An independent U.N. human rights monitor says economic sanctions are compounding a "grave crisis" in Venezuela.

Idriss Jazairy, a special rapporteur focusing on the negative impact of sanctions, expressed concern about "reports" that the U.S. sanctions were "aimed at changing the government of Venezuela." He did not specify the reports.

He added: "The use of sanctions by outside powers to overthrow an elected government is in violation of all norms of international law."

U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to use the "full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy." The Trump administration slapped sanctions on Venezuela that could starve the country of billions in oil revenue.

Jazairy's office has taken funds from donors including Russia, one of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's staunchest supporters.

Special rapporteurs do not speak for the United Nations, but are appointed by the U.N.-backed Human Rights Council.

___

9:45 a.m.

The spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry says there are no plans underway for evacuation of the country's diplomats or other citizens from Venezuela, but is declining to comment on why a Russian airliner showed up in the Venezuelan capital's airport.

The arrival of the Boeing 777 belonging to Russian airline Nordwind on Monday has led to widespread speculation, including that Venezuelan officials might be aiming to spirit tons of gold reserves out of the country as a political crisis deepens.

The Associated Press was unable to verify the authenticity of that claim.

Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters Thursday that she could not comment on the airliner, "which was not sent for official goals."

"I can say that this is not about evacuation of Russian diplomats, or their family members or Russian citizens that are employees of overseas agencies or companies," she said.

___

9:15 a.m.

The European Parliament is calling on the European Union's member states to recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president.

The 28-member bloc is still defining its position on the crisis there.

The EU legislature approved by a 439-104 margin a resolution that also condemned the continued violence and the detention of journalists who sought to cover events there.

"All of Venezuela is watching us," said Esteban Gonzalez Pons of the Christian Democrat EPP group. "Let's make Venezuelan history today by recognizing the democratic and legitimate power of Venezuela."

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called on the South American country to release journalists who were arrested covering the crisis.

"We expect them to be released immediately," she said in Bucharest where EU foreign ministers are set to discuss the crisis later Thursday.

___

5 a.m.

The Spanish government has condemned the detention of three reporters and a driver working for Spain's state-run EFE news agency in Venezuela's capital.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's office issued a statement Thursday calling for their immediate release.

EFE has reported that Colombian photographer Leonardo Munoz disappeared on Wednesday morning in Caracas and that two more reporters, Spaniard Gonzalo Dominguez and Colombian Mauren Barriga, were later taken away from their office by members of Venezuelan intelligence service Sebin. Spain's government says a Venezuelan driver working for the news agency was also taken into custody. He wasn't identified.

Sanchez has said that Spain's government will endorse Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela if embattled President Nicolas Maduro doesn't call a presidential election by Sunday.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
EU, Japan welcome deal boosting trade between 2 world powers
The European Union and Japan have inaugurated a landmark deal they say will boost trade between the two economic powers and sends the message that international agreements still have a purpose in an age of increasing protectionism
4:59AM ( 44 minutes ago )
US poised to announce withdrawal from nuclear arms treaty
The Trump administration is set to announce it is withdrawing from a nuclear arms treaty that has been a centerpiece of superpower arms control since the Cold War
4:54AM ( 50 minutes ago )
Business leader survey shows a third thinking of leaving UK
A survey of some 1,200 British company directors suggests nearly a third may shift operations abroad because of Britain's pending departure from the European Union
4:53AM ( 51 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
India budget offers tax cuts, handouts for poor farmers
India's pre-election budget offers tax cuts, handouts for poor farmers
3:28AM ( 2 hours ago )
Women will surround Trump at State of the Union address
Women, powerful Democrats. Immigrants _ all living reminders of the 2018 election, will surround Trump as he delivers the State of the Union
2:09AM ( 3 hours ago )
Schultz faces hometown protests as he eyes 2020 bid
Sonics fans, worried Democrats will greet talk by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz as he returns to Seattle
1:35AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Trump says he's 'set the stage' for wall action
President Donald Trump says he has "set the stage" to take action on his own if lawmakers don't provide funding for his border wall
9:29PM ( 8 hours ago )
Judge refuses Nevada's latest bid for plutonium shipment ban
A federal judge denied Nevada's latest request Thursday to immediately block all future shipments of weapons-grade plutonium to a nuclear security site north of Las Vegas.
9:05PM ( 8 hours ago )
FEC flags Arizona senator for excessive campaign donations
The Federal Election Commission says Arizona Sen. Martha McSally may have accepted $270,000 in campaign contributions that exceeded legal limits
8:46PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Eyeing 2020, Brown tests pro-worker theme in Iowa towns
Democrat Sherrod Brown is making his first trip to Iowa as a presidential prospect
9:26PM ( 8 hours ago )
Trump raises $21M for re-election in final months of 2018
President Donald Trump has raised more than $21 million for his re-election during the closing months of 2018
7:08PM ( 10 hours ago )
South Carolina Dems overwhelmed by flood of 2020 contenders
With possibly two-dozen candidates entering the 2020 presidential field and flooding early-voting states, South Carolina Democrats are feeling overwhelmed
5:32PM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Elections
US: Mueller evidence used in disinformation campaign
Prosecutors say a Russian company charged by special counsel Robert Mueller shouldn't be permitted to review sensitive evidence because confidential material it has already received was improperly released
7:17PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Pence going to Miami to meet with Venezuelans
Vice President Mike Pence is going to Miami on Friday to meet with people who have fled Venezuela, as the Trump administration continues to challenge Nicolas Maduro's claim to the presidency
6:51PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Mexico, Uruguay plan conference on Venezuela
The governments of Mexico and Uruguay are calling for an international conference of neutral countries to jump start a dialogue between Venezuelans
5:33PM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
Jailed Reuters reporters appeal to Myanmar's Supreme Court
A lawyer for two Reuters journalists sentenced to seven years in prison on charges of violating Myanmar's Official Secrets Act has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court seeking to overturn their convictions
3:58AM ( 1 hour ago )
Catalan separatists transferred to Madrid as key trial nears
Spanish authorities have transferred nine politicians and activists from prisons in Catalonia to the country's capital, Madrid, ahead of a high-stakes rebellion trial for their parts in an attempt to secede from Spain
3:50AM ( 1 hour ago )
Request made in Thai court to send soccer player to Bahrain
Thai prosecutors have submitted a request in court for Thailand to extradite to Bahrain a detained soccer player who has refugee status in Australia
3:16AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP World News
World stocks rise on hopes for second Trump-Xi meet
World stocks rise as China-US talks end with promise of more talks between Trump and Xi
4:03AM ( 1 hour ago )
Honda's profit drops on air bag recall expenses, flat sales
Honda logs 71 percent drop in profit in April-December as slow sales, air bag recalls take toll
3:11AM ( 2 hours ago )
Sony boosts profit on tax cut, yen, sales of music, movies
Sony boosts profit on tax cut, yen, entertainment segment
2:56AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Prescription discounts channeled to patients in Trump plan
Trump administration plan would channel behind-the-scenes drug discounts directly to patients
12:50AM ( 4 hours ago )
PG&E must deal with problem that bankruptcy won't end: fires
Bankruptcy won't let the nation's biggest utility escape the danger that caused it financial peril in the first place
8:16PM ( 9 hours ago )
Trump plan would channel prescription discounts to patients
Trump administration plan would channel behind-the-scenes drug discounts directly to patients
7:55PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
How will bankrupt utility deal with wildfires from now on?
When California's Pacific Gas & Electric comes out of bankruptcy, it will face the same danger that put the company in financial peril in the first place: wildfires
6:05PM ( 11 hours ago )
Poland exported 5,500 pounds of meat from sick cows to EU
Poland's top veterinary official says about 2,500 kilograms (5,500 pounds) of meat from illegally slaughtered sick cows was exported to 10 other European countries
4:04PM ( 13 hours ago )
Natural gas prices slump despite US winter weather blast
While the polar vortex is driving up demand for natural gas, it isn't doing the same for the price
3:34PM ( 14 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Deep freeze expected to ease, but disruptions persist
Historic deep freeze expected to ease, but disruptions and record-breaking lows still hit the Midwest
10:40AM ( 19 hours ago )
Germany sees surge in new solar power as prices drop
Germany added almost three gigawatts of new solar power generation in 2018, about 68 percent more than the previous year amid a drop in prices for new systems
8:18AM ( 21 hours ago )
APNewsBreak: US moves ahead with oil leases near sacred park
U.S. land managers will move forward in March with the sale of oil and gas leases that include land near Chaco Culture National Historical Park and other sites sacred to Native American tribes
7:32AM ( 22 hours ago )
AP Business - Utilities
EU, Japan welcome deal boosting trade between 2 world powers
The European Union and Japan have inaugurated a landmark deal they say will boost trade between the two economic powers and sends the message that international agreements still have a purpose in an age of increasing protectionism
4:59AM ( 44 minutes ago )
US poised to announce withdrawal from nuclear arms treaty
The Trump administration is set to announce it is withdrawing from a nuclear arms treaty that has been a centerpiece of superpower arms control since the Cold War
4:54AM ( 50 minutes ago )
Business leader survey shows a third thinking of leaving UK
A survey of some 1,200 British company directors suggests nearly a third may shift operations abroad because of Britain's pending departure from the European Union
4:53AM ( 51 minutes ago )
Khomeini launched a revolution from a sleepy French village
From sleepy village outside Paris, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini launched the Iranian revolution 40 years ago
4:52AM ( 51 minutes ago )
Midwest awaits spring-like thaw just days after bitter cold
Midwest awaits spring-like thaw just days after bitter cold; temperatures could climb by 80 degrees
4:40AM ( 1 hour ago )