US Lawmakers in Quandary Over Venezuela's Crisis

Doug Mendoza
May 26, 2018

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday that he had ordered the chief of mission at the US Embassy in Caracas to leave the country within 48 hours.

"We'll present proof to the country of the military, economic and political conspiracy from the embassy's charge d'affaires".

He accused the pair of trying to sabotage Venezuela's presidential election by pressuring several anti-government presidential candidates not to compete in the race.

Venezuela's elections took place on Sunday and Maduro was re-elected until 2025, with the BBC reporting the Chavist leader gaining 68% of the vote.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said American officials had seen reports of the impending expulsions, and added, "We completely reject the false allegations that have made by the Maduro regime against our two colleagues".

But the fact is that the Trump Administration has not yet taken major steps to curb US oil imports from Venezuela, which account for the Maduro regime's biggest - if not only - legal source of income.

It appears to target in part Citgo [PDVSAC.UL], a USA -based oil refiner owned by Venezuela state oil company PDVSA [PDVSA.UL]. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who has repeatedly pushed for a tougher U.S. response on Venezuela, declared in Spanish on Twitter that "now there is no doubt that there is not an electoral exit".

More obstacles to PDVSA's ability to sell oil overseas could restrict already-dwindling foreign exchange earnings.

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"There have been 24 elections that have faced threats", he said, referring to the elections since his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, won the presidency in 1998.

Opposition leaders had called for a boycott of the election to protest the Maduro government. Turnout was less than 50 percent, compared to 80 percent in 2013.

Maduro was sworn in on Thursday for a second term as president of the Latin American country.

"That was the straw that broke the camel's back, what pushed me to do it faster", Casique, 29, said while charging her cell phone outside the Aeroexpresos Ejecutivos terminal in Caracas, where she was planning to buy tickets for a bus leaving on Tuesday. -Venezuelan oil transactions and making it harder for Venezuelan officials to profit from selling off the country's assets.

He promised to spend the next two years before scheduled congressional elections repairing an economy he says has been badly damaged by mafias backed by Colombia and the U.S.

In a statement on Tuesday, Venezuela's foreign ministry said the sanctions violated worldwide law and blamed the USA "blockade" of the country for "blocking the population's access to basic goods".

It said U.S. policy "promotes hatred, intolerance and political and financial lynching" of Venezuela.

Other reports by GizPress

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