Venezuela's former national intelligence service (SEBIN) chief Gen. Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera has claimed that US President Donald Trump said “no” to his request to scrap sanctions against the South American country.
“I asked President Donald Trump to lift sanctions on our country and he said that he would as soon as there was another administration in charge in our country because the current one would continue to steal our resources and continue the suffering of our society”, Figuera argued in a video released on Friday.
He added that it was “one of [his] detractors” who asked him to call on Washington to annul sanctions against Venezuela.
“I sacrificed everything […]. Those who know me in sports, academics, the military, and family spheres know […] my head-on struggle with the revolution and against injustice”, Figuera said, referring to the Bolivarian socialist political changes that characterised the administrations of Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.
The remarks come as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro slammed Fuguera as “a traitor,” claiming that the former SEBIN chief helped plan the 30 April coup attempt.
Maduro also argued that Figuera "was captured by the CIA a year ago and was working as a mole and infiltrator”.
This followed US Vice President Mike Pence saying on Wednesday that the White House had lifted all sanctions on Figuera after he broke ranks with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro last week to support the country’s opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Tensions in Venezuela exacerbated further on 30 April, when Guaido urged Venezuelan civilians and servicemen to take to the streets to help depose the government of President Nicolas Maduro, who in turn said that the commanders of all regions had reiterated their full loyalty to the people, constitution and their homeland.
The government then announced that the botched coup attempt, which had turned violent, led to about 240 people being injured, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Trump administration imposed several rounds of sanctions against Venezuela after US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido illegally declared himself interim president in late January, in a move that prompted the political standoff in the South American country.
In addition, after immediately recognising Guaido, Washington seized billions of dollars’ worth of Venezuelan oil assets.
It was reported that the total damages from sanctions against Venezuela have already exceeded 100 billion dollars.