23:11 GMT23 February 2020
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    Political Crisis in Venezuela (578)

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States has lifted all sanctions on Venezuela's former intelligence service chief Gen. Manuel Cristopher Figuera after he broke ranks with President Nicolas Maduro last week to support opposition leader Juan Guaido, US Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech.

    "In recognition of his recent actions in support of democracy and the rule of law, I'm announcing today that the United States of American is removing all sanctions on General Manuel Cristopher Figuera effective immediately", Pence told the Washington Conference on the Americas held at the State Department on Tuesday.

    The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Figuera on 15 February under the heading current or former official in the Maduro government.

    READ MORE: US Navy to Deploy Hospital Ship in Response to Venezuela Crisis — Pentagon

    The Treasury Department said in a statement on Tuesday that the decision to remove all of Figuera's sanctions demonstrates Washington's intent to bring a positive change of behavior through sanctions.

    Moreover, the US will hold all 25 Venezuelan Supreme Court magistrates accountable if they do not uphold the rule of law in the country, Pence said.

    "It is time for the Supreme Court in Venezuela to return to its founding purpose", Pence said on Tuesday. "If the Supreme Court of Venezuela does not return to its constitutional mandate to uphold the rule of law, the United States of America will hold all 25 of its magistrates accountable for their actions".

    Pence said the Venezuelan Supreme Court has undermined its constitutional mandate and become a political tool.

    READ MORE: Why Trump Wants War With Venezuela Not Iran

    Meanwhile, Pompeo has acknowledged that political conditions remained unclear in Venezuela and that President Nicolas Maduro retained the loyalty of key figures in the government despite the calls of US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido for an uprising to topple him.

    Last week, Guaido made another attempt to depose of Maduro, staging a demonstration in front of La Carlota military base in Caracas. Guaido called on the people of Venezuela and the army to take to the streets to complete the operation to overthrow Venezuela's legitimate president.

    In response, Maduro said that the commanders of all regions and zones of integral defence had reiterated their full loyalty to the authorities of the country. Similarly, Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino said Venezuela's armed forces remained loyal to Maduro and the country’s constitution.

    Large-scale protests against Maduro began in Venezuela on 21 January soon after he was sworn in for a new term. Guaido then proclaimed himself to be an interim president of Venezuela. A number of Western countries, including the United States, backed his claim.

    Maduro has accused the United States of trying to orchestrate a coup in order to install Guaido as its puppet. Russia, China, Bolivia, Turkey and numerous other countries have said they recognize constitutionally-elected Maduro as the only legitimate president of Venezuela.

    READ MORE: Guaido: 'We Are Very Close to Achieving Change in Venezuela' — Reports

    Political Crisis in Venezuela (578)


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    removal, sanctions, Manuel Cristopher Figuera, Juan Guaido, Mike Pence, Nicolas Maduro, United States, Venezuela
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