US Imposes Sanctions on Venezuelan Officials for Blocking Aid

Two Venezuelan soldiers lie on the ground as they are detained by Colombian police after driving into Colombia in an armor car from the Venezuelan side of Simon Bolivar International bridge in Cucuta

The United States imposed new sanctions on six Venezuelan security officials and revoked the visas of dozens of associates and their families with ties to President Nicolas Maduro, in the latest move to pile pressure on him to step down.

US envoy to Venezuela Elliot Abrams, centre, attends a meeting of the United Nations Security Council in NY on February 28, 2019.

"In order to prevent much-needed aid from reaching the suffering people of Venezuela, Maduro closed Venezuela's border and deployed official, and unofficial, military and security forces to Venezuela's borders with Colombia and Brazil where the humanitarian aid convoys were set to cross", the Treasury Department explained. Luis, a 53-year-old salesman in Caracas's central Sabana Grande area, who did not wish to give his last name, said Venezuelans were now extremely frightened by the level of repression, and the government would not go of its own accord.

Abrams said the USA is very concerned about interim self-declared Venezuelan President Juan Guido's "ability to go back home" from travels overseas.

This comes after the US and many other countries have withdrawn support for Maduro, calling his regime corrupt and illegitimate.

Guaido did not say when exactly or how he would return to Venezuela.

"Maduro supporters that abuse or violate human rights, steal from the Venezuelan people, or undermine Venezuela's democracy are not welcome in the United States".

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Opposition leader, and self-declared president, Juan Guaido announced he was going the other way on Sunday, tweeting he would return to Venezuela after visiting leaders across Latin America.

His claim has since been recognised by 50 countries, including the United States, but Maduro - bolstered by Russia's support - has denounced Washington for attempting to foment a coup d'etat. Subsequent clashes between Venezuelan and Colombian border forces killed at least five people and wounded 285 more.

"We cooperate tightly and coordinate our actions on the global arena, and at the moment (our cooperation) is gaining special importance under the circumstances of Venezuela facing a frontal attack and a shameless intervention into its internal affairs", said the Russian Federation foreign minister.

"We are very closely cooperating and coordinating all our steps in the worldwide arena", Mr Lavrov said.

"We work very closely with your state and coordinate actions in the global arena", Lavrov told Rodriguez.

Lavrov added that Moscow is prepared to hold bilateral talks with the United States on the Venezuela issue.

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