US says Maduro using banks as slush funds

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The U.S. has repeatedly warned Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro there would be consequences if Guaido or his aides were arrested.

According to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro allegedly "distorted the original goal of the bank... as part of a desperate attempt to hold onto power".

However, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence wrote Friday in The Miami Herald that China refused to grant an official visa to Ricardo Hausmann, the Venezuelan representative designated by opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country's Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country's capital of Caracas on January 23.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Thursday intelligence agents had detained his chief of staff during a pre-dawn raid, a move by President Nicolas Maduro that the Trump administration said would "not go unanswered".

Guaido said Maduro's aim was "to generate fear".

This latest decision comes at a time when Venezuela is going through one of its most intense economic struggles- with inflation rates within the country now at an all-time high (80,000%).

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They cited several key reasons why naming someone so soon may be problematic for him. The choice of Abrams would be advantageous to Biden in a number of ways.

As a result of today's action, all property and interests in property of these entities, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by this entity, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.

"As President Trump clearly stated, the toughest sanctions are yet to come", national security adviser John Bolton said in a tweet Thursday.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says Trump will use the meeting to thank the leaders for their support for peace and democracy in Venezuela and discuss potential opportunities for energy investment. And every nation of the world owes it to hopeful young Venezuelans like Daniel to do the same. They purchased the oil under the PetroCaribe arrangement, which gave them low-interest credit terms, but have left them indebted to Caracas.

Under President Trump, the United States will continue to stand with the people of Venezuela as they reclaim their birthright of libertad.

St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Michael Chastanet said it's been since the Reagan administration that the US has taken an interest in the Caribbean and acknowledged that Trump's invitation was likely due to their support of the USA stance against Venezuela at the Organization of American States. "We call for their immediate release and will hold accountable those involved", the spokesperson said in a statement.

"Changing Venezuela's representative at the IADB won't help solve Venezuela's problems and (the proposal) damaged the atmosphere of the IADB annual meeting and disturbed preparations for the meeting", he said. Several EU countries came forward with support for the Venezuelan parliament and expressed hope for new elections to resolve the crisis.