Spain’s Foreign Minister Josep Borrell Wednesday accused the U.S. of behaving like a “cowboy” in Venezuela.
He stressed that a solution to Venezuela’s current political impasse should be “peaceful, negotiated and democratic.”
“The contact group which we are part of is not on the same wavelength as the U.S. administration, which is like a cowboy who says ‘look at me, I will draw my gun,’” Borrell said during an interview with TV Espanola.
During the interview, Borrell also criticized the U.S. government’s adoption of extra-territorial measures against Cuba and described them as “an abuse of power which we oppose.”
Borrell’s statements happened on the same day in which U.S. Vice President Mike Pence launched new threats against the Bolivarian Revolution by announcing that his country will soon deploy a military ship.
“Today I announce that the U.S. Navy will deploy the USNS Comfort to the Caribbean, Central America and South America,” said Pence during a speech at the Washington Conference of the Americas.
The U.S. Vice President also offered new incentives to Venezuela’s military to turn against President Maduro.
In addition, it has been told that President Trump’s administration will move to impose sanctions on 25 Venezuelan Supreme Court Judges.
Venezuelan magistrates cannot be blackmailed
In response to the threats by Pence, Venezuela’s Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno Wednesday said the Venezuelan magistrates cannot be “blackmailed.”
“We categorically and forcefully reject the threat of Mike Pence, who in a disrespectful and interfering manner seeks to subject the high-ranking judicial authorities to threats which violate independence, self-determination and sovereignty principles,” Moreno said.
The Supreme Court President added that the Venezuelan judges would never be subordinated to a foreign government seeking to violate “our country’s sovereignty.”
Seizure of $1.7 billion in Portugal affects all Venezuelans
Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza reiterated Tuesday that the illegal halt of a transfer of US$1.7 billion from Portugal’s Novo Banco on May 10 “affects all Venezuelans,” and clearly shows that Portugal is following orders from the U.S. government.
“Portugal’s Foreign Affairs Minister affirms that in his country, banks do not receive orders from the Portuguese government, but it is evident that they do from the U.S. They’ve blocked, in a criminal manner, the resources of the Venezuelan people,” Arreaza tweeted Tuesday responding to his Portuguese counterpart.
On Monday, Portuguese Foreign Affairs Minister Augusto Santos Silva said that in Portugal banks do not receive orders from the government and that disputes are settled in court. The government of Venezuela has already asked Portuguese authorities to release the state assets illegally withheld at Novo Banco.
Venezuela’s Foreign Affairs Minister also stated that those assets were meant to import medicines, food, industrial goods, seeds, fertilizers, to pay salaries for workers, and other supplies in the normal course of the country, emphasizing the criminality and illegality of the U.S. blockade.
Since January 2019 alone, the Trump administration has slapped sanctions on the state-run Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), the country’s Central Bank, and on individuals working in the country’s mining and gold industry. These sanctions have made it impossible for the Venezuelan government to transfer funds or pay its debts, driving down the economy.
According to an investigation by the Latin American Geopolitical Strategic Center (Celag), the financial blockade against Venezuela prompted a decrease in the Venezuelan gross domestic product equivalent to US$350 billion between 2013 and 2017.
“It is hard to figure out how measures which have the effect of destroying Venezuela’s economy can be aimed at ‘helping the Venezuelan people,’ as claimed by the U.S. Treasury,” warned the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of sanctions, Idriss Jazairy, on May 6.
“I will never tire denouncing the U.S. government”
President Nicolas Maduro has denounced the fact that several foreign countries are blocking funds from being transferred to Venezuelan government bank accounts. One of them is Portugal, whose Novo Banco has blocked US$1.726 billion from making its way to Venezuela where the Maduro administration intended to use the funds to purchase basic goods for the Venezuelan people.
“I ask the Portuguese government to issue a statement. The Novo Banco kidnapped US$1,726 million which were meant to purchase medicines, food and supplies,” said Maduro during a press conference Thursday.
“I will never tire of denouncing the U.S. government of stealing more than US$30 billion from Venezuela,” tweeted the Bolivarian president.
He added that his country would increase its defense against U.S. President Trump’s imperialist blockade that is an “inhuman sabotage against all our imports.”
Venezuela is currently conducting a global campaign to denounce the U.S. financial blockade and economic sanctions that for nearly two years have prevented the purchase of medicines and food and impede the development of the South American nation.
Appropriation of Venezuela’s financial resources
A report said:
“Trump’s appropriation of Venezuelan financial resources: Bank of England US$1,359 million, Citibank US$220 million, Bank of Glemstrem US$509 million, North Capita US$267 million, Novo Bank US$1,726 million, Sumitomo US$467 million. Trump Unblock Venezuela.”
Demonstration by senior citizens
Venezuelans on Thursday demonstrated outside the Portuguese embassy in Caracas to demand the immediate release of their financial resources.
Most of the protesters were senior citizens who carried banners that read: “Release our medicine, Portugal”; “We need health supplies”; “Say No to the U.S. blockade” and “Respect Venezuela”.
It was reported in January that Novo Banco had blocked the transfer of at least US$1.2 billion to Venezuela from the financial entity that is 75 percent-owned by U.S. private equity firm Lone Star Funds.
Venezuelan Embassy in Washington D.C.: Water shut off, police block entry of food
After several weeks of protecting the Venezuelan embassy in D.C., the ‘U.S. government’ has shut off the water to try to ‘smoke out’ Maduro supporters.
After the water was suddenly shut off in the Venezuelan embassy in the U.S. located in Washington, D.C. Saturday morning, CODEPINK activists were stopped by local police from bringing in food to those inside.
Benjamin, the human rights leader whose organization also advocates to free Palestine said in a tweet: “Now the US govt has turned off the water in the Venezuela Embassy to smoke us out. No lights, no water, little food. This is how Big Brother tries to crush other countries as well. We remain firm. Send love to #embassyprotectioncollective #HandsOffVenezeula.”
CODEPINK and its supporters have been allowed into the embassy building located in Washington, D.C. by the Nicolas Maduro government in order to protect the diplomatic territory from being taken over by U.S. and Venezuelan opposition members who want to allow Guiado’s appointees into the premises.
The group had already planned a rally outside the embassy in continued support of Maduro and to denounce the U.S.’s continued threats to use military force to overthrow the president.
By Saturday afternoon, police and Guaido’s supporters were blocking Venezuelan government supporters from bringing food to those who have been inside for weeks and are running out of food and provisions.
Pro-Guiado supporters outside of the embassy became violent this week when they injured pro-Maduro supporters.
One human rights leader was arrested by local police for throwing bread into the windows of the building for the activists inside.
Power cut at Venezuela embassy in U.S.
Clashes ensued Wednesday evening at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington D.C. between representatives of the international NGO Code Pink who have barricaded themselves in the embassy and supporters of the right-wing Venezuelan opposition outside.
Opposition groups prevented basic commodities such as food from entering the embassy on May 8. The Collective of Protection of the Embassy threw a backpack from a window to be filled with food from the outside, but the opposition intercepted it. It was later recovered after scuffles between opposition members and the police.
Electricity was also cut off at the Venezuelan embassy despite all bills being up to date May 8.
It was not clear who was behind the power outage but activists inside the embassy blamed it on U.S. authorities.
Carlos Vecchio, the envoy to the U.S. of opposition lawmaker and self-proclaimed “interim president” of Guaido, described this as “a small victory”.
Vecchio also said he has already taken necessary measures, or correspondences, to ensure the members of the international NGO Code Pink evacuate the building.
The Collective of Protection is in Venezuelan territory because the Venezuelan government authorized the group to enter and defend the facilities after U.S. authorities supported the entry of officials appointed by Guaido.
The activists barricaded inside the embassy say the U.S. is attempting to engineer a coup against Venezuelan President Maduro.
According to the U.S. State Department, those inside the embassy without authorization are considered trespassers. However, the Vienna Convention of 1961 bars U.S. security forces from entering the embassy and forcefully removing anyone.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza issued a statement Wednesday asking that the state department comply with international agreements. “Again we demand the U.S. State Department comply with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and to protect the building of our former embassy in Washington, avoiding aggression against guests who are avoiding an illegal occupation,” Arreaza said in a tweet.
Panama’s President-elect criticizes Lima Group
Panama’s President-elect Laurentino Cortizo criticized Monday the Lima Group for its inability to build bridges between Venezuelan President Maduro and the domestic opposition.
The incoming president of Panama said he supports a diplomatic mechanism of dialogue similar to the Contadora Group in the early 80s.
The President-elect questioned during an interview to local media TVN: I wonder how much progress the Lima Group has made? Has it moved towards an agreement that does not exclude anyone? That is the question.”
When asked if his country would remain in the Lima Group during his presidency, Cortizo replied, “for the moment, obviously,” and commented that the prior government’s decisions on this issue will be respected.
Panama’s outgoing president Juan Carlos Varela and Cortizo addressed the Venezuelan issue during a meeting, which took place Monday as part of the government’s transition preparations.
However, neither side mentioned the topic at the end of their meeting.
Cortizo, who takes office July 1, promised to help reach a solution to the Venezuelan domestic situation.
He said: Those who think that Venezuela’s only problem is its government are wrong because “there are other factors,” at play.
Corizo suggested his country could contribute to a new inclusive dialogue process in which “everyone feels that Venezuela and the region win.”
CA strips immunity of 4 opposition lawmakers
Venezuela’s Constituent Assembly approved Tuesday a resolution stripping four opposition lawmakers from immunity, accusing them of treason, following similar accusations against 10 legislators this month.
The resolution was voted on a request issued by the Supreme Court, which was itself requested by Venezuela’s Attorney General Tarek William Saab.
Security forces had earlier prevented lawmakers from entering the legislature for Tuesday’s session, saying they were investigating the possible presence of an explosive device inside the building.
The lawmakers are Carlos Paparoni, Miguel Pizarro, Franco Casella and Winston Flores of treason and inciting rebellion.
Last week, one opposition lawmaker was arrested and several took refuge in foreign embassies in Caracas or fled the country after similar accusations from the court.
Venezuelan citizens are returning home
Ninety-one citizens of Venezuela have returned home from Dominican Republic. They were welcomed home.
The Bolivarian government has announced that the number of flights would be increased to bring back Venezuelan migrants from abroad.
The “Return to the Homeland” scheme provides free flights to Venezuelans looking to return to their country.
Head of the state airline Conviasa, Ramon Velazquez Araguayan, said Saturday, “We’ve seen the quintupling of the number of co-nationals that want to return voluntarily to the country, for whom we will be adding new days for the ‘Return to the Homeland’ scheme. We’ll increase the frequency of the flights.”
He added President Maduro has given instructions that we have all the necessary resources available to maintain the operationality of the aircrafts to guarantee the happy return of Venezuelans to their homeland.
The next flight scheduled by the Bolivarian government is leaving Ecuador on Saturday to bring 170 Venezuelan nationals home. Another flight is leaving Peru on May 18 with another 170 looking to return to Venezuela.
Since August 2017, over 14,000 Venezuelan nationals have returned to their country with the scheme. Another 50,000 have signed up and are awaiting a flight.
A number of Venezuelans moved to neighboring Latin American countries following the U.S. sanctions and economic war the country has been victim to. However, many are disillusioned with life in countries such as Peru and Ecuador where they have faced discrimination and labor exploitation. The large waiting list to return on government flights continues to grow.
China delivers 71 tons of humanitarian aid
China delivered a large amount of humanitarian aid to Venezuela, completing their second long haul of cargo to the Bolivarian Republic since March.
A Chinese Boeing 747 carrying 71 tons of medicine and surgical material arrived in Caracas on May 13. The Venezuelan Government said the delivery included supplies for pregnant women and medicine to treat respiratory conditions.
Venezuela has already received 166 tons of medicines and supplies from Russia, the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent.
China previously shipped 65 tons of humanitarian aid to Venezuela on March 29. This delivery was mis-labeled as “military” support to the Bolivarian Republic.