U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Criticizes U.S. Sanctions Against Venezuela

Juan Guaidó: The Venezuelan opposition leader has USA backing.

"The regime's continued use of kidnapping, torture, and murder of Venezuelan citizens will not be tolerated by the USA or the global coalition that is united behind President Guaido", said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Guaido, 35, declared himself interim president on January 23 and has the backing of the USA and more than 50 other countries.

Trump met with the leaders of St Lucia, Haiti, the Bahamas and Jamaica at his private residence on Friday for a two hour meeting to discuss among other issues the ongoing political and economic situation in Venezuela, where Washington is at the forefront of efforts to remove President Nicolas Maduro from office.

The department says the sanctions are in response to the illegal arrest of Roberto Marrero, chief of staff to opposition leader Juan Guaido. But a senior official in US President Donald Trump's administration told the news agency that Washington and its regional allies would "pull quorum" from the meeting if Hausmann was excluded.

"The work by the intelligence and interior ministry units led to the detention of citizen Roberto Marrero, aged 49, who bears direct responsibility for organizing criminal groups", the minister said in a statement aired by the Venezolana de Television TV channel.

Mr Pence continued to add: "Since day one of this administration, President Trump has taken decisive action to isolate the dictator Maduro and to stand with the Venezuelan people as they reclaim their freedom".

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The vice president pointed out how the USA has responded to the ongoing situation in Venezuela by sanctioning government officials, blocking them from taking US dollars from its state-owned oil company PDVSA and providing more than 525 metric tons of food aid. "Almost three million people have fled the country since 2015, placing extra pressure on neighboring Latin American countries such as Colombia and Brazil".

Earlier on Thursday, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton criticized via Twitter the reported arrest of Marrero, saying that the arrest "will not go unanswered".

The crisis has put some Caribbean nations in a tough spot.

"The message from this meeting is that the United States wants to encourage and promote stronger relationship with the region", Holness said.

China is the main creditor of Venezuela, granting more than $60 billion over the past decade to Maduro's cash-strapped government, which pays back in oil.

For years, Venezuela has provided then with a reliable supply of oil on low-credit terms, leaving them indebted to Caracas. The U.S. has a long history of interventions - military and otherwise - in Latin America. "We call for their immediate release and will hold accountable those involved", the spokesperson said in a statement.

USA allies backed the United States position, with more than 80 percent of IDB shareholders voting Friday to move the meeting out of China, the official said.

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