USA accepts new political envoy for Venezuelan 'interim' government

Venezuela centrist opposition leader Juan Guaidó, left, has made a claim to the presidency and called for elections as the leftist incumbent Nicolas Maduro faces massive protests against his rule across the country. The U.S. and other countries recognized Guaido last week as Venezuela's rightful president, and he said Monday he would take control of Venezuelan accounts overseas and appoint new boards to PDVSA and its Houston-based subsidiary Citgo Petroleum. Some 75 per cent of the country's cash-generating oil shipments go the United States, according to Barclays, but Mr Maduro retains the support of Russia, China, Turkey and Iran and is likely to divert shipments to them.

"Venezuela does not pose any threat to peace and security". He said Citgo assets in the United States will be allowed to continue to operate - provided that any funds that would otherwise go to the state-owned oil company be sent to a blocked account in the United States.

There was no immediate response from the U.S.

The government has yet to comment on the report but socialist party boss Diosdado Cabello on Monday tried to turn the tables on Guaido, saying his security was now in the hands of the U.S. Embassy. He noted the sanctions wouldn't affect oil already purchased that is being shipped, and said he didn't expect USA gas prices to rise.

At the same time, depending on how Maduro responds, the new sanctions could have little effect on USA refinery operations, which employ hundreds of Americans and produce gasoline and other refined petroleum products.

The United States separately warned there would be a "significant response" if US diplomats, Guaido or the opposition-controlled National Assembly were targeted with violence and intimidation.

The administration is using "a scalpel, rather than a meat ax", he said in an email.

Senator Marco Rubio, a vocal critic of Maduro who has called for such sanctions, welcomed the move even before it was announced.

Maduro has received support from Russia, Syria, Turkey and China as well as longtime allies Cuba and Bolivia.

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In a sign that output could rise further, U.S. energy firms last week raised the number of rigs looking for new oil for the first time in 2019 to 862, an additional 10 rigs, Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its weekly report on Friday.

The U.S. announced sanctions against Venezuela amid its political crisis. He said Abrams will be responsible "for all things related to our efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela".

"We are waiting for you, the soldiers of Venezuela".

The 35-day-long shutdown over President Trump's demand for border wall funding forced some federal workers to head to food shelters or fall behind on their rent.

So far, the USA has stuck with economic and diplomatic pressure in dealing with the situation in Venezuela.

In recent days, he urged British Prime Minister Theresa May and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney to block Maduro's government from collecting more than $1 billion in gold held by the Bank of England.

On Wednesday, opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself the country's interim president.

Mnuchin said the Treasury Department also took steps Monday to authorize certain transactions and activities with PDVSA.

  • Darren Santiago