UN rights experts report a rise of efforts in Venezuela to squelch democracy ahead of 2024 election
A U.N.-backed panel investigating human rights violations in Venezuela says the South American country’s government has intensified efforts to curtail democratic freedoms with use of threats, surveillance and harassment as President Nicolás Maduro faces a re-election contest next year.
Trump's promise of payback for prosecution follows years of attacking democratic traditions
Donald Trump’s attacks on the justice system after his indictment on federal charges this week are the latest step in a now eight-year campaign by the former president and his allies against the traditions and institutions that have helped maintain American democracy.
Bribery trial tests US cases against Venezuela kleptocrats
A former Venezuelan treasurer and nurse to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is contesting criminal charges in the U.S. Claudia Diaz is charged with money laundering, accused of taking at least $4.2 million in bribes and gifts in exchange for green lighting lucrative currency transactions.
'Fat Leonard' may be Venezuela bargaining chip, experts say
A fugitive defense contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard” who claims to have incriminating sex photos of top U.S. Navy brass could become the latest bargaining chip in Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s efforts to win official recognition from the Biden administration.
US court awards $73 million for Venezuelan opponent's death
A federal judge in Miami has awarded $73 million in damages to the family of a prominent opponent of Venezuela’s socialist government who died while in custody in what he described as a “murder for hire” carried out by a criminal enterprise led by President Nicolás Maduro.
Asylum seekers caught in political battle in NYC, Washington
Thousands of asylum seekers from across Latin America and the Caribbean are getting caught in the political battle over U.S. immigration policy after two Republican governors started sending busloads of migrants to New York City and Washington.
New claims against ex-Miami congressman hired by Venezuela
New filings in a civil suit allege that a former Miami congressman who signed a $50 million consulting contract with Venezuela’s socialist government not only did no apparent work, but also channeled a large chunk of the money to a yacht company on behalf of a fugitive billionaire.
Caribbean storm likely to gain force, hit Central America
The U.S. National Hurricane Center says a storm that has hurled rain on the southern Caribbean and the northern shoulder of South America is expected to hit Central America as a tropical storm over the weekend and eventually develop into a hurricane over the Pacific.
US officials back in Venezuela in a bid to rebuild ties
Senior Biden administration officials have quietly traveled to Caracas in the latest bid to rebuild relations with the South American oil giant as the war in Ukraine drags on, driving higher gas prices and forcing the U.S. to recalibrate other foreign policy objectives.
Possible Russia oil embargo drives US outreach to Venezuela
Senior U.S. officials secretly traveled to Venezuela over the weekend in a risky bid to unfreeze hostile relations with Vladimir Putin’s top ally in Latin America, a top oil exporter whose re-entry into U.S. energy markets could mitigate the fallout at the pump from a possible oil embargo on Russia.
Businessman close to Maduro was DEA informant, records show
Newly unsealed court records show that a Colombian businessman linked to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was secretly signed up by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a cooperating source in 2018 and gave agents information about bribes he paid to Venezuelan officials.
Alleged Maduro co-conspirator says CIA knew about coup plans
A retired Venezuelan army general says U.S. officials at the highest levels of the CIA and other federal agencies were aware of his efforts to oust Nicolás Maduro — a role he says should immediately debunk criminal charges that he worked alongside the socialist leader to flood the U.S. with cocaine.
Opposition candidate wins in Venezuela's cradle of Chavismo
Voters in the home state of Venezuela’s late President Hugo Chávez have picked an opposition candidate for governor in a closely watched special election called after the contender representing that faction in November’s regular contest was retroactively disqualified as he was ahead in the vote count.
US targets graft in Venezuela's flagship food box program
Federal prosecutors have unveiled criminal charges against an alleged corruption ring accused of paying millions of dollars in bribes to a top ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to profit from lucrative contracts to import food and medicine at a time of widespread hardship in the South American country.
Maduro ally appears in court to face corruption charges
A businessman who prosecutors say was a major conduit for corruption by Nicolás Maduro’s inner circle has appeared for the first time in Miami federal court after an extradition that has further strained relations between the U.S. and Venezuela’s socialist government.
US weighs policy on Venezuela as Maduro signals flexibility
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government is intensifying efforts to court the Biden administration as the new U.S. president weighs whether to risk a political backlash in Florida and ease up on sanctions seeking to isolate the socialist leader.
US lets Venezuelans stay temporarily, will review sanctions
AdA senior Biden administration official portrayed that as a failed strategy. “The United States is in no rush to lift sanctions," the official said, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity to discuss the policy. Any easing of sanctions would likely face opposition in Congress, but the granting of temporary protected status for Venezuelans has bipartisan support. Temporary protected status is a more formal status that cannot be as easily reversed. Citizens of 10 countries, totaling about 400,000 people, are in the United States now with temporary protected status.
Venezuela hired Democratic Party donor for $6 million
(AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)MIAMI – Newly filed lobbying records show Venezuela’s socialist government previously hired a longtime Democratic Party donor for $6 million at the same time it was lobbying to discourage the U.S. from imposing sanctions on the oil-rich nation. Federal prosecutors in Miami are also investigating whether the Republican broke foreign lobbying rules. Payments came from a little-known, Delaware-registered subsidiary, PDV USA, which provided shareholder services to PDVSA independent of Citgo's oil operations. “Wiss was engaged to provide PDV USA and its affiliates with legal services only,” she wrote in an e-mailed response to questions. PDV USA said Wiss provided updates on disputes involving PDVSA and advice on immigration, insurance, and cryptocurrency.
Maduro's 'miracle' treatment for COVID-19 draws skeptics
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a ceremony marking the start of the judicial year at the Supreme Court in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. “Ten drops under the tongue every four hours and the miracle is done,” Maduro said in a televised appearance on Sunday. Other leaders too have embraced solutions dismissed by scientific studies. Maduro said the treatment, which he called carvativir, has been under testing for nine months among Venezuelans ill with the coronavirus. She said colleagues at a local health center and some neighbors have died from COVID-19.
Trump blocks Venezuelans' deportation in last political gift
Trump signed an executive order deferring for 18 months the removal of more than 145,000 Venezuelans who were at risk of being sent back to their crisis-wracked homeland. He cited the “deteriorative condition” within Venezuela that constitutes a national security threat as the basis for his decision. The Trump administration was the first of now more than 50 countries in the world to recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s president shortly after the young lawmaker rose up to challenge Maduro’s rule two years ago. More than 700 Venezuelans have been removed from the U.S. since 2018, while 11,000 more are under deportation proceedings, according to the TRAC immigration data base of Syracuse University. All are accused of helping the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA evade earlier U.S. sanctions designed to stop the president from profiting from crude sales.
Trump hits Cuba with new terrorism sanctions in waning days
WASHINGTON – The Trump administration on Monday re-designated Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism,” hitting the country with new sanctions that could hamstring President-elect Joe Biden's promise to renew relations with the communist-governed island. Since Trump took office, after a campaign that attacked Obama's moves to normalize relations with Cuba, ties have been increasingly strained. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez condemned the U.S. action. The latest sanctions put Cuba alongside North Korea, Syria and Iran as the only foreign nations deemed state sponsors of terrorism. Obama’s removal of Cuba from the “state sponsors of terrorism” list had been a major target of Trump, Pompeo and other Cuba hawks in the current administration.
Pompeo to designate Yemen's Houthi rebels as terrorist group
(Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP, File)WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that he will designate Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels as a “foreign terrorist organization” as time runs down on the Trump administration. In addition to the Houthi designation, Pompeo in coming days is also expected to likely re-designate Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism," according to several admininstration officials. On Saturday Pompeo angered China when he declared restrictions on U.S. diplomatic contacts with Taiwanese officials to be null and void. The administration had been weighing the formal designation of the Houthi rebels as a “foreign terrorist organization” for months. On Saturday, Pompeo announced that he was rescinding all restrictions on contacts between U.S. diplomats and Taiwanese officials.
Yemen, China, Cuba top Pompeo to-do list as time runs down
The announcement comes as Pompeo and his top aides rush to complete actions they believe will cement their legacy and the president’s. In addition to the Houthi designation, Pompeo in coming days is also expected to likely re-designate Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism," according to several admininstration officials. On Saturday Pompeo angered China when he declared restrictions on U.S. diplomatic contacts with Taiwanese officials to be null and void. “The United States recognizes concerns that these designations will have an impact on the humanitarian situation in Yemen,” Pompeo said in his statement. On Saturday, Pompeo announced that he was rescinding all restrictions on contacts between U.S. diplomats and Taiwanese officials.
Venezuela's socialists take control of once-defiant congress
The ruling socialist party assumed the leadership of Venezuela's congress on Tuesday, the last institution in the country it didn't already control. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)CARACAS – Parading giant portraits of Hugo Chavez and independence hero Simon Bolivar, allies of President Nicolas Maduro retook control of Venezuela's congress Tuesday, the last institution in the country it didn’t already control. “They are trying to annihilate Venezuela’s democratic force,” Guaidó said in his online address, which was overshadowed by the government’s celebratory session in the legislature downtown. Rodriguez emphasized that urgent work would be needed to mitigate the fallout from U.S. sanctions, which have exacerbated Venezuela's many homespun economic problems. He also reiterated a desire for dialogue with the opposition at the same time that Maduro and others have threatened arrest for Guaidó.
Maduro opponents claim big turnout in Venezuelan protest
That includes the 5 million Venezuelans who have fled the nation’s hyperinflation and lack of basic services such as reliable running water, electricity and gasoline, they said. The Trump administration took the lead, imposing sanctions on Maduro, dozens of his political allies and the state-run oil firm PDVSA. On Jan. 5, the term of the current opposition-dominated National Assembly ends and Maduro’s political allies take over the last governmental body not controlled by the president’s socialist party. Guaidó and his political allies vow to continue fighting. Democracy must return to Venezuela.”Support among Venezuelans for the opposition has waned amid growing frustrations over Maduro remaining in power.
Venezuela's Guaidó: Time to revise international sanctions
“We must review these mechanisms at the international level to exert pressure on this dictatorship and find a solution,” Guaidó said. Maduro said taking the National Assembly back will help him end opposition-led violence in Venezuela’s streets fomented by Guaidó as well deflect crushing international sanctions. “One thing I can guarantee is that I’m staying in Caracas,” Guaidó said. Guaidó declined to say whether he's made contact with Biden's incoming administration, but he said there's a need to revise U.S. financial sanctions and support from world leaders. But Guaidó said it is time to revisit the sanctions, which have not forced out Maduro.
Legislative election leaves Venezuela in political standoff
(AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)CARACAS – President Nicolás Maduro has cemented formal control over all major institutions of power in Venezuela with authorities reporting Monday that his political alliance easily won a majority in congress. Yet he remains a pariah to much of the world following an election critics called deeply undemocratic. “The results of the election show a discouraged, tired people, the vast majority doing everything possible to survive,” Shifter said. The U.S., Panama, Canada and Germany have repeated their condemnation of the the election by Maduro's government following announcement of the results. "The international community now has to decide whether it wants to live with that or restore the democratic path for Venezuela.
Venezuela vote likely to give Congress to Maduro's party
The vote, championed by President Nicolas Maduro, is rejected as fraud by the nation's most influential opposition politicians. Critics say he's guaranteed that by rigging the system to smother the last remnants of democracy in Venezuela. The European Union, the U.S. and several other nations have already declared the vote a sham. “I came to vote, and in less than half a second I have voted, quickly,” Caracas resident Rafael Espinoza said. “I don’t feel like wasting my time, giving these people the opportunity, so I simply don’t vote,” she said.
Venezuela's Maduro seeks to tighten his grip via election
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks to supporters during a closing campaign rally for the upcoming National Assembly elections in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Venezuelans will vote for a new National Assembly this Sunday, Dec 6. Opposition leader Juan Guaidó, 37, rose to head the National Assembly in early 2019, declaring presidential powers and vowing to oust the 58-year-old Maduro. Abrams said he also expects broad international support for Venezuela's opposition to remain firm, even as Maduro's government tries to push them out of Venezuela's political landscape. "We’re getting instead an election that doesn’t deserve to be called an election."
World leaders hope for fresh start after Biden win
Other leaders who supported Trump including President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines congratulated Biden, indicating they rejected Trump’s claim the election wasn’t over. Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia told reporters he looked forward to a “great partnership” with Washington. Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan said he looked forward to working together to end illegal tax havens and on peacemaking in Afghanistan. Others expressed hope Biden will help to heal divisions in American society and global politics. Prime Minister Janez Jansa was the only leader who congratulated Trump even before all votes were counted and showed support after Biden’s win was announced.
US case against Venezuela's oil minister hits another snag
FILE - In this May 19, 2018 file photo, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, right, and then Vice President Tareck El Aissami tour the construction site of La Rinconada baseball stadium on the outskirts of Caracas, Venezuela. The prosecution of El Aissami, Venezuelas Oil Minister, for violating U.S. sanctions has run into another snag after a federal judge on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, allowed one of his co-defendants to withdraw a guilty plea over allegations U.S. attorneys withheld evidence in the case. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan, File)The prosecution of Venezuela’s Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami for violating U.S. sanctions has run into another snag after a federal judge allowed one of his co-defendants to withdraw a guilty plea over allegations that U.S. attorneys withheld evidence in the case. Like Mones, Marin owns a flight charter company that allegedly arranged flights for El Aissami and Lopez. The same unit is prosecuting El Aissami, who has celebrated the prosecutorial setbacks.
Experts cite 'crimes against humanity' in Maduro's Venezuela
The experts delved into nearly 3,000 cases, looked at more than 5,000 killings and concluded that Maduro and his defense and interior ministers were aware of the crimes committed by Venezuelan security forces and intelligence agencies. They further alleged that high-level authorities had both power and oversight over the forces and agencies, making the top officials responsible. Critics have already accused Maduro’s government of crimes against humanity. Maduro’s government has come under increasing political pressure from the United States and dozens of other countries which consider politician Juan Guaidó the legitimate leader of Venezuela. Venezuela was once wealthy, sitting atop the world’s largest oil reserves, but it has tumbled into economic and political crisis.
Washington says pardons by Venezuela's Maduro are token acts
FILE - In this March 12, 2020 file photo, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela. Restoring constitutional rights that were illegally taken away should not be applauded," the U.S. State Department said in a statement. Maduro in a Tuesday address on state TV accused President Donald Trump of leading a campaign to topple and even kill him. Maduro defended his pardons, saying he assumed full responsibility for the decision done in the spirit of peace and dialogue. The State Department described the pardons as token actions" and said conditions required for free and fair elections are clear.
Maduro's hold on Venezuela tightens as coronavirus surges
A man wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic passes a mural of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Analysts say that in recent months the pandemic has helped suck away the oppositions scanty momentum and bolster Maduros already strong hand. The Venezuelan opposition hoped that 2020 could bring new momentum after several failed pushes to overthrow Maduro. “Maduro has had an opportunity to show his territorial control,” said Luis Vicente León, a Venezuelan political analyst. The court also took over three leading opposition parties, appointing new leaders the opposition accuses of conspiring to support Maduro.
Gold in London bank sparks battle between Venezuelan rivals
FILE - In this March 12, 2020 file photo, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a press conference at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, Venezuela. The political battle over control of Venezuela has turned to a $1 .8 billion stack of gold bars sitting in the Bank of England's vault in London, where a judge is expected to decide soon on who has the rightful claim to the bullion. Maduro says he needs the gold to help his cash-starved nation fight the coronavirus pandemic. But the central bank for the United Kingdom, whose government recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaido as his country's legitimate leader, has refused to hand it over to Maduro's socialist administration. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix, File)
Venezuela wins seat on UN Human Rights Council
Venezuela has become the latest accused human rights abuser to win a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council. It also presented evidence of human rights violations including torture and extrajudicial killings by Venezuelan security forces. The UN Human Rights CouncilThe UN's 47-nation human rights group gets to point the finger at countries for their human rights violations. And Human Rights Watch, deputy director for global advocacy, Philippe Bolopion said that Venezuela's election "betrays the fundamental principles (the UN) set out when it created the Human Rights Council." On Thursday, US Ambassador Craft said the Venezuela's ascent to the council "provides ironclad proof that the Human Rights Council is broken and reinforces why the United States withdrew."
Ecuador government leaves capital city amid protests
Ecuador TV via CNN(CNN) - Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno has announced that his government will leave the capital city of Quito amid violent protests over his move to end state fuel subsidies. The military stepped in to rescue dozens of personnel held by indigenous groups protesting the end to fuel subsidies, Ministry of Defense officials said Monday. On Monday, Ecuador's Secretary of State Juan Sebastian Roldan asked indigenous groups leading the protests to put an end to the ongoing looting and violence. Moreno blamed foreign influences such as Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro and leftist former president Rafael Correa for the unrest engulfing the nation. The president enjoys support from businesspeople and the military, and has moved Ecuador towards the political center after taking over from Correa.
US, Latin America move to keep pressure on Venezuela
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The US is making a push for new international sanctions against Venezuela, a senior State Department official said Monday, as Latin American states voted to pursue and possibly extradite regime leaders. "We want to make sure the issue of a transition in Venezuela remains very high on the international agenda," a State Department official said Monday. A Wednesday meeting of heads of government will also focus on Venezuela, the State Department official said. The State Department official emphasized that the battle against Maduro is broader than a US-Venezuela standoff. "Then we would like to see sanctions that affect broader targets in the regime," said the State Department official.
Wall Street Journal: No MLB players to Venezuelan league
1933: The first Major League Baseball All-Star Game is played in Chicago's Comiskey Park. Babe Ruth hit the first home run in All-Star game history as the American League defeated the National League 4-2. (CNN) - Major League Baseball will not allow its players to play in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League this coming winter while determining how to follow the Trump administration's new economic sanctions on Venezuela, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing several people familiar with the matter. It will not impact Venezuelan players traveling back to the country during the off-season, and was communicated by MLB to teams starting on Thursday, the paper reported. The Venezuelan state-owned oil company heavily sponsors the nation's baseball league, which has taken a hit from the recent political instability, the Journal reported.
Venezuela blames 'electromagnetic attack' for blackout
A woman walks out from a building during a power outage in Caracas, Venezuela. (CNN) - Large swathes of Venezuela remained without power on Tuesday, the day after the country suffered its fourth nationwide blackout this year. The blackout, which officials blamed on a hostile "electromagnetic attack," affected almost the entire country, including the capital Caracas. A government statement called the blackout "an electromagnetic attack," though stopped short of providing details about who might have been responsible or how it was carried out. Then, as now, Maduro blamed the blackout on hostile attacks, accusing the United States of sabotaging power plants and the electricity grid.
US military: Venezuela fighter jet made 'unsafe' approach to aircraft
(CNN) - A Venezuelan fighter aircraft recently made an "unsafe approach" to a US Navy aircraft flying in international airspace, "endangering the safety of the crew and jeopardizing" the aircraft's mission, the US military said Sunday. In a Sunday tweet, the Southern Command said the incident happened in international airspace over the Caribbean Sea. As the US aircraft did not comply with such protocols, it was forced to vacate (the Venezuelan airspace)." According to Venezuela, more than 76 US aircraft have attempted to enter Venezuelan airspace in 2019. Last month, a Russian aircraft intercepted a US aircraft flying in international airspace over the Mediterranean Sea three times in just under three hours.
Venezuelan opposition, Maduro government to hold talks in Barbados
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados - Negotiations are set to resume Monday between the Venezuelan government and the opposition group calling for its ouster in a bid to end months of political instability, the two sides announced. Talks will be held in Barbados and mediated by Norway, which hosted a Oslo meeting in May that failed to reach an agreement between President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido. Guaido declared himself acting president of Venezuela in January, challenging Maduro's claim to have won a 2018 election that international observers said lacked legitimacy. Maduro has accused Guaido, his allies and international backers -- most notably the United States -- of attempting to organize a coup. Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, have for years been accused of triggering a humanitarian catastrophe through their hardline socialist economic policies.
Venezuelans protest after UN report alleges deaths and cover-ups
In the middle-class streets of Eastern Caracas, protesters gathered in large numbers at the call of opposition leader Juan Guaido. UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who oversaw the report, they said, had simply been following a script written by Washington. The OHCHR reportIssued one day earlier, the 16-page report has renewed longstanding criticisms of the embattled Maduro regime. It was created by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), a group Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza has repeatedly criticized as "biased." In 2018 alone, 5,287 Venezuelans were killed while "resisting authority," the report said, citing the Maduro administration's own figures.
Venezuelan Navy captain dies in custody after abuse allegations
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (center) speaks at the Balcn del Pueblo of the Miraflores Government Palace on Jan. 23, 2019, in Caracas, Venezuela. CARACAS, Venezuela (CNN) - A week before he died, a Venezuelan navy captain was arrested and accused of plotting to remove embattled President Nicolas Maduro from power. Rafael Ramon Acosta Arevalo's death Saturday remain a mystery in a country marred by political and humanitarian crises. In recent months, dozens of active and retired military officers have been detained by Venezuelan counterintelligence officers on treason charges. But Acosta is the first known military officer to die in custody amid allegations he was tortured.