Maduro: Trump out to kill me

US crude production has undermined sentiment in market

US crude production has undermined sentiment in market

The Trump administration on Monday slapped sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil company, a decision meant to protect the country's assets for opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who the White House recognizes as the legitimate leader of the country, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

In an interview with the German daily Bild, he called on European Union countries to impose more sanctions on Maduro's government.

"Although the consequences are not direct, but they eventually will affect us somewhere down the road", he stated.

The proposals were still being offered, but it was unclear on Tuesday whether the approach of using intermediaries or swaps would avoid violating US sanctions, the sources said.

Maduro has been overseeing military training exercises broadcast on state television on a near-daily basis over the past week in an apparent attempt to show he still has the backing of the armed forces, whose support is key to either man's claim to the presidency.

Pompeo determined that Guaido has authority over the nation's accounts at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY and other US -insured banks, State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement. The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has also urged countries to "pick a side" in the crisis. In fact they are totally out of commission and have been importing their products from the United States, he observed.

Venezuelan opposition sympathizers had been urging Guaido to assume the presidency since Maduro was inaugurated to a second term on January 10 following a widely boycotted election previous year that the United States and many other foreign governments described as a fraudulent.

Reuters reported last week that private military contractors who carry out secret missions for Russian Federation had flown into Venezuela to beef up Maduro's security in the face of mass opposition protests last week, according to people close to them.

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Russia, meanwhile, has supported Maduro, according to news reports.

On Wednesday, Maduro accused Trump of ordering neighboring Colombia to murder him.

Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek Saab sought a preliminary investigation of Guaido on the basis that he helped foreign countries interfere.

The court is stacked with Maduro loyalists.

Russian Federation has led a group of Washington's adversaries who have come to Maduro's defense, accusing the USA of calling for a coup after it rushed to recognize Juan Guaido, the head of the opposition-controlled congress, when he declared himself interim president a week ago.

Juan Guaido, Venezuela's self-proclaimed interim president.

Speaking at the walkout, Guaido said he wasn't losing any sleep over the probe.

The move came after the State Department revealed that Guaido - the National Assembly head and self-proclaimed interim president - has been handed control of Venezuela's USA bank accounts. "It belongs to the Venezuelan people".

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The already distressed nation is likely to face even tougher times ahead after the USA imposed sanctions Monday on Venezuela's state-owned oil company, potentially depriving the Maduro government of $11 billion in export revenues over the next year. Shortages in food staples and basic medicines are rampant and crime is widespread.

Mr Maduro called the sanctions "criminal" and vowed to challenge the USA in court.

"We won't allow a Vietnam in Latin America", Maduro said.

"We call on other governments to recognize interim President Juan Guaido and take similar steps to protect Venezuela's patrimony from further theft by Maduro's corrupt regime".

In a tweet on Wednesday, Mr Trump repeated a travel advisory from the US State Department, telling US citizens not go to Venezuela. Massive protest expected today.

He has received backing from the U.S. and several major countries but it is the support of the military that he needs most to drive Maduro out of power.

It says more than 40 people are believed to have been killed.

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