Wednesday, April 24, 2019 06:54:45 AM
AFP, Caracas :
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Saturday launched what he promised will be a "definitive" escalation of pressure to force the country's embattled leftist leader from office.
Addressing a giant anti-government rally in Caracas, Guaido - whose claim to be interim president is supported by around 50 nations - kicked off what he called "Operation Liberty," his plan to oust President Nicolas Maduro.
"Everyone to the streets, let's start the final phase of the end of the usurpation!" he told supporters, speaking from the back of a pickup truck.
He called for a huge nationwide turnout on Wednesday, and urged his followers to redouble their efforts to maintain pressure in the streets.
"The greatest escalation of pressure we have seen in our history" has begun, Guaido said.
The call comes amid massive blackouts and the collapse of water supplies affecting the nation, further exacerbated a growing political crisis.
The United States meanwhile has stiffened its economic sanctions against Maduro, and one top US official warned Venezuela's military that it must protect the rights of peaceful protesters.
At the rally, Guaido also warned Cuba's President Miguel Diaz-Canel that the supply of subsidized Venezuelan oil to the Caribbean communist island nation was over.
Venezuela has been sending cheap oil to Cuba in exchange for labor from Cuban doctors and teachers, but Guaido said the oil was actually financing a Cuban intelligence group known as G2 that was cracking down on Maduro opponents in the Venezuelan military.
"The exploitation of Venezuelan oil is over, so Mr Diaz-Canel… Venezuelan oil will not be used to submit and investigate our military officials" through the G2, he told the crowd.
Pro-Guaido protests drew thousands in rallies across the country on Saturday.
A pro-Maduro counter-demonstration in Caracas, with supporters dressed in red, drew a large crowd that gathered at the Miraflores presidential palace.
"Together, permanently mobilized, let's keep defending national peace and independence; no more interference!" Maduro tweeted.
Later, he called upon Mexico and Uruguay to relaunch their proposal for dialogue to resolve the crisis without foreign intervention. The two countries had first introduced that idea in January.
Two opposition deputies were detained at an anti-government demo in the western city of Maracaibo, but a few hours later Guaido announced that the two had been released.
Elimar Diaz, a lawmaker who marched in Maracaibo, told AFP the protest there had encountered "brutal repression," including tear gas canisters dropped from helicopters, the use of National Guard armored vehicles and attacks by members of the pro-government militia, known as "colectivos."
Diaz said people in Maracaibo had gone "days without electricity" amid "inhumane rationing" by the government.
Maduro has blamed US-backed sabotage for the massive blackouts that have deprived millions of power. The opposition blames a failure to maintain critical infrastructure.
· Abrams an 'assassin' -
Facing intense pressure at home and abroad, the Maduro government has
sought to weaken Guaido.
The government has stripped his parliamentary immunity, authorized his prosecution for proclaiming himself acting president, and banned him from holding public office for 15 years.
Guaido said earlier this week he feared that he could be abducted by government agents.
Speaking to the pro-government Constitutional Assembly, Maduro's top lieutenant Diosdado Cabello slammed the US point man on Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, as an "assassin."
"It is Abrams who should be in prison, condemned in the United States for genocide in Central America," said Cabello, referring to the US official's controversial role in the Central American conflicts of the 1980s.
Washington meanwhile kept up the international pressure on Maduro to step down.
Vice President Mike Pence on Friday announced fresh sanctions against 34 vessels belonging to Venezuela's state oil company and two companies that ship crude to Cuba.
"This is only a first step," US national security advisor John Bolton tweeted on Saturday in reference to the sanctions.
He cautioned the Venezuelan defense minister in a separate tweet of the official's "constitutional responsibility to protect innocent civilians who are peacefully demonstrating," adding: "Do not let the Cubans or the 'colectivos' inflict violence against Venezuelan patriots."
Actress Sri Reddy who became a sensation for raising her voice against casting couch in Tollywood is back to making the headlines. Sri Reddy, on Friday, wrote an open letter to K Chandrasekhar Rao, Chief Minister of Telangana and requested him to personally investigate about the sexual harassment that is ...
Actress Priya Anand, who is popular for her roles in Telugu films 180, Ko Antey Koti and Leader, was trolled and called ‘bad luck’ for actors. Tamil actor JK Rithesh, who was recently seen in LKG, has passed away recently due to severe chest pain. Last year, actress Sridevi passed ...
AFP :Islamist suicide bombings that killed more than 300 people in Sri Lanka at the weekend were carried out in revenge for last month's attacks on two mosques in New Zealand, the government said Tuesday, citing an initial police probe.The revelation came as the death toll in the Easter Sunday ...
THE gas line explosion that killed two garment workers and injured six others in a residential block in Narayanganj on early Monday is not an isolated incident, rather an explicit exposure of the danger of derelict, faulty and illegal gas connections and substandard gas burner uses. We observe that incidents ...
Cristiano Ronaldo said on Saturday he is "1,000 percent committed" to staying with Juventus next season after claiming his first Serie A title.Massimiliano Allegri's side needed just one point to nail down its eighth straight league championship, which helped ease some of the pain of its shock Champions League exit ...
Reuters, Washington :Top congressional Democrats left the door open on Sunday to the impeachment of US President Donald Trump, but said they would first need to complete their own investigations into whether he obstructed justice in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.Some party leaders have cautioned against impeachment just 18 ...
Ananya Panday who is making her debut with Student Of The Year 2, is ringing high on the excitement with her recently released song, The Jawani Song. The teen sensation is a web series maniac and the testimony of the same are the series that Ananya binge watches, stealing time ...
IN disaster prone Bangladesh floods, erosions and landslides are considered much more devastating as they make more people shelter-less each year. Losing everything, the affected people borrow from money lending Mahajans, micro credit institutions as well as select NGOs in money lending business at high rates of interest to rebuild ...
A CONSTABLE of Criminal Investigation Department and one of his associates were arrested with 990 Yaba pills from Savar on Thursday evening, some newspapers reported. The arrestees are Taijuddin, a constable of CID's Uttara Zone, and his associate Mofiz Mia, said Officer-in-Charge of Detective Branch of Police in Dhaka (North). ...