Venezuelan President Maduro accuses Trump of ordering his assassination

Jeannie Matthews
January 31, 2019

Violent street demonstrations erupted last week after opposition leader Guaido during a major opposition rally in Caracas declared that he had assumed presidential powers under the constitution and planned to hold fresh elections to end Maduro's "dictatorship".

"Together with other responsible members of the global community, we will do everything to support President Maduro's legitimate government in upholding the Venezuelan constitution and employing methods to resolve the crisis that are within the constitutional framework", he added. More than 3 million Venezuelans have fled, causing consternation across the continent.

The TSJ's order came hours after Attorney General Tarek William Saab announced that he requested the high court to apply precautionary measures against Guaido.

Venezuela's Supreme Court has imposed a travel ban on Guaido and frozen his bank accounts in apparent retaliation for oil sanctions imposed by the United States that are expected to severely hit an already collapsing economy. But the 32-member Supreme Court is loyal to Maduro and moved quickly to open the investigation. The embattled president said he will be announcing a range of measures in response to the USA sanctions within the coming hours but has provided no details.

It comes amid fears of a US-backed coup to overthrow Maduro's government - something that could have prompted the movement of such large amounts of gold overseas.

Maduro's inauguration sparked protests throughout Venezuela. "We stand ready to continue to take action", he said in a tweet.

Not many believe the Venezuelan factor will be a big deal for oil prices.

The US has emerged as Guaido's most powerful ally, announcing on Tuesday that it was giving him control of Venezuela's US bank accounts.

"You're getting a little bit more of a security premium built into the price today", said John Kilduff, founding partner of hedge fund Again Capital LLC in NY.

Maduro appeared on a television broadcast from a military base on Tuesday, praising the soldiers' loyalty.

Most recently, the US announced sanctions against Venezuela's state-owned oil monopoly PDVSA on Monday to pressure Maduro to step down.

The pravda.com.ua website quoted Venezuela's National Assembly, which is in opposition to the country's President Nicolas Maduro, as saying on Twitter: "We have received information from officials at the Central Bank of Venezuela: A plane has arrived from Moscow with an intention to take away at least 20 tonnes of gold".

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Maduro said the United States is trying to "steal" Citgo from Venezuela.

The company would not allow the opposition to take control of its US refinery unit Citgo, Venezuela's key foreign asset, he said.

The Russian gas giant now resells approximately 225,000 barrels per day of Venezuelan oil - about 13 percent of the nation's total exports, according to the PDVSA trade reports.

"We won't allow a Vietnam in Latin America", Maduro said.

The sanctions announced Monday will freeze any assets the state-owned PDVSA has in the United States, and bars US firms and citizens from doing business with it.

International Brent crude oil futures were 1 cent above their last close, at $61.33 per barrel. Venezuela is among the world's largest heavy crude oil producers.

"An instruction was given to define new export markets in 15 to 30 days", Rangel said.

On Tuesday, Russia said it foresees that Venezuela will have problems repaying its debt, with Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak telling Russian media: "There will probably be problems ..."

In Geneva, senior USA and Venezuelan diplomats traded jibes at a disarmament conference.

At this stage, the European Union looks unlikely to follow Washington in imposing additional sanctions against Caracas.

Maduro was reelected in May 2018 and was sworn in as president on January 10 for another six-year term.

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