Published: Wed, January 30, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Venezuela's Supreme Court bans self-declared president from leaving the country

Venezuela's Supreme Court bans self-declared president from leaving the country

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions against PDVSA would prevent Maduro from diverting resources from the country until power could be transferred to an interim or democratically-elected government.

And Maduro, defiantly resisting attempts to oust him, brandished his most potent weapon: the military.

Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak told Russian state news agencies that "there will probably be problems" for Venezuela in paying its debts.

"The Maduro crime family has used PDVSA to buy and keep the support of many military leaders", said US Senator Marco Rubio.

The stand-off is precarious and fraught with risk for Maduro and the US-backed opposition.

Venezuela's Supreme Tribunal of Justice barred opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself the country's acting president, from leaving the country and froze his bank accounts Tuesday.

But the 32-member Supreme Court is loyal to Mr Maduro and moved quickly to open the investigation. The EU has also called on President Maduro to hold new elections.

Maduro also claimed that US President Donald Trump had ordered the government of Colombia to assassinate him.

With tensions rising, Mr Maduro later responded to the sanctions and instructed the PDVSA to launch "political and legal action, in United States and worldwide courts".

The sanctions are likely to hit daily life hard in Venezuela, where public spending is nearly entirely funded by oil.

After the criminal investigation was announced, Guaido said he was not surprised.

Nurmagomedov, McGregor Agree to Settlements, Won’t Attend NAC Hearing
If it is, it is not expected he will return to action until after 5 June because the practising Muslim will honour Ramadan. Nurmagomedov's fine will be withdrawn from the $1 million of his purse still being withheld.

In Washington, Trump's national security advisor warned of "serious consequences" if any harm comes to the Venezuelan opposition leader.

"This is a country that is disintegrating in real time, before our eyes", says Roger Frankel, former Australian ambassador to Venezuela.

The Trump administration had long held off targeting Venezuela's oil sector for fear that it would hurt USA refiners and raise oil prices for Americans. But officials said they believed they could avoid such damage.

Maduro has blamed the uprising against him on Trump, warning the USA president to "take your hands off" Venezuela.

Gulf refineries that use Venezuela's heavy crude will have to look for alternatives to replace supplies.

The brigades that he announced were reminiscent of shock troops frequently used by autocratic governments to spy on and control dissident populations.

Most experts believe the sanctions and other measures against Maduro will encourage him to step down only if he loses the support of the powerful military, which until now has been mostly loyal to the leftist ruling party founded by late President Hugo Chavez.

Maduro, in a live national broadcast on Monday, accused the United States of trying to steal USA refining arm Citgo Petroleum, the OPEC member's most important foreign asset, which also owns a chain of US gas stations. "The oil belongs to the Venezuelan people, and therefore the money PDVSA earns from its export will now be returned to the people through their legitimate constitutional government".

Violent street demonstrations erupted last week after Guaido during a huge opposition rally in Caracas declared that he had assumed presidential powers under the constitution and planned to hold fresh elections to end Maduro's "dictatorship".

The United States, Australia and several other countries have recognised Mr Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate head of state and denounced Mr Maduro as a usurper. Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) has been a multi-billion-dollar state-owned oil and natural gas company since 1976. Opposition leader Bill Shorten concurred. The announcement raised the travel advisory to its highest level, putting Venezuela on a no-travel list that also includes Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and South Sudan.

Like this: