On January 29th, Venezuela’s Supreme Court banned Self-Proclaimed Interim President Juan Guaido from leaving the country and froze all of his assets.
The Supreme Court, which according to media is loyal to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, quickly approved the measures after Attorney General Tarek William Saab asked it to take “precautionary measures” against Guaido.
The opposition leader “is prohibited from leaving the country” until a preliminary investigation is complete after he “caused harm to peace in the republic”, court head Maikel Moreno said.
As leader of the National Assembly, Guaido has immunity against prosecution unless it comes from the Supreme Court.
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling US National Security Adviser John Bolton responded with a tweet of warning:
We denounce the illegitimate former Venezuelan Attorney General's threats against President Juan Guaido. Let me reiterate – there will be serious consequences for those who attempt to subvert democracy and harm Guaido.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) January 29, 2019
The decision came shortly after Washington said it handed control of the country’s bank accounts in the US to Guaido, whom it recognizes as legitimate president.
The decision to seize Venezuelan assets and provide them under Guaido’s control was announced by the US State Department on January 29th. The decision was made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on January 25th.
“On January 25, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo certified the authority of Venezuela’s interim President Juan Guaido to receive and control certain property in accounts of the Government of Venezuela or Central Bank of Venezuela held by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or any other U.S. insured banks, in accordance with Section 25B of the Federal Reserve Act. This certification will help Venezuela’s legitimate government safeguard those assets for the benefit of the Venezuelan people,” the statement read.
In an interview with RIA Novosti published on January 30th, Nicolas Maduro said he was prepared to sit down for negotiations with the opposition.
“I’m ready to sit down at the negotiating table with the opposition so that we can speak for the good of Venezuela – for the world and its future,” he said.
Speaking about the possibility of attracting international mediators, Maduro noted that “there are several governments and organizations in the world that demonstrate their sincere concern about what is happening in Venezuela, they called for dialogue.” And the president would like them to “maintain a dialogue in Venezuela.”
In another part of the interview, Maduro claimed that Donald Trump wants to have him killed.
“Without a doubt, Donald Trump <…> told the Colombian government, the Mafia of Colombia to kill me. If something happens to me once, Donald Trump and Colombian President Ivan Duque will be responsible for everything that happens to me,” Maduro said.
In a speech to the Venezuelan Air Force, Maduro vowed to form a 50,000-strong paramilitary force to protect the nation.
“We are striving to reach two million militiamen by April 13th and to achieve the best organizational level of our defense units,” he said.
“Come on Bolivarian national militia! Let’s organize the people’s power so that it will be a great support, a great addition to the winning strategy of our armed forces,” the president said.
Meanwhile, CNN reported that defectors from the Venezuelan army are calling on the Trump administration to arm them.
“Former soldiers Carlos Guillen Martinez and Josue Hidalgo Azuaje, who live outside the country, told CNN they want US military assistance to equip others inside the beleaguered nation. They claim to be in contact with hundreds of willing defectors and have called on enlisted Venezuelan soldiers to revolt against the Maduro regime, through television broadcasts.
“As Venezuelan soldiers, we are making a request to the US to support us, in logistical terms, with communication, with weapons, so we can realize Venezuelan freedom,” Guillen Martinez told CNN.
Hidalgo Azuaje added: “We’re not saying that we need only US support, but also Brazil, Colombia, Peru, all brother countries, that are against this dictatorship.”
Furthermore, Juan Guaido himself gave an interview to CNN Espanol. He said that he is willing to consider amnesty for Maduro and the military top brass as part of a transition to democracy.
“Our people have suffered,” Guaido said. “We are waking up from a nightmare to the dream of rebuilding Venezuela.”
He also said that he was hoping to win the support of the military, who could help him to convince Maduro to step down.
“We are ready to do what is necessary to see democracy,” Guaido said.
However, he warned that he would not start a “false dialogue” with a regime that jails and tortures political opponents, something Maduro’s regime has been consistently accused of.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Bolton’s Mysterious ‘5,000 Troops to Colombia’: Preparations For US Invasion In Venezuela?
- US Gives Venezuela’s Opposition Leader Juan Guaido Control Over Some Assets
- Prosecutor General Calls For Investigation Against Venezuela’s Self-Proclaimed President