Venezuela

The U.S. Treasury Department is freezing the assets of eight members of Venezuela's Supreme Court of Justice as a result of rulings that the U.S. says have usurped the power of that country's democratically elected National Assembly.

The sanctions were announced in a statement by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin:

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Three years ago, Venezuela’s socialist regime jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López for leading anti-government protests – and also tried to imprison López’s top lieutenant, Carlos Vecchio.

But Vecchio went into hiding and then into exile in South Florida. From here Vecchio helps lead López’s party, Voluntad Popular, or Popular Will.

More than six weeks into ever-deepening demonstrations against President Nicolas Maduro's government, Venezuelans have found themselves staring down some stark numbers:

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Anti-government unrest in Venezuela has entered its sixth week – with almost 40 people killed. Venezuelans in South Florida are also turning up the volume against the socialist regime – and Florida Governor Rick Scott joined them Monday night in Doral.

Hundreds of expats sang the Venezuelan national anthem outside the Arepazo Dos restaurant in support of massive street protests back home. They want the ouster of left-wing President Nicolás Maduro, whom they blame for political repression and Venezuela’s economic collapse.

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UPDATED April 27 at 9 pm

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro calls his country’s tens of thousands of anti-government protesters “terrorists.” But the son of one high-ranking Maduro official is publicly telling the regime it’s wrong.

Updated 2 a.m. Thursday ET:

Emily Michot / Miami Herald

Venezuela is in its fourth week of massive anti-government demonstrations – and so far 21 people have been killed in the unrest.

The Miami Herald

This week on The Florida Roundup...

With less than three weeks left to go in Florida's 2017 Legislative Session, state Senate leaders have found themselves suddenly confronted with arguably the most uncomfortable situation they've had to face in some time.

Associated Press

Venezuelans took to the streets again Thursday, braving tear gas, beatings and bloodshed as they try to force President Nicolás Maduro to hold elections in the crisis-riddled nation.

But even as a growing number of people seem willing to put their lives on the line to push for change, Maduro appears to have the backing of the one group that might make a difference: the military.

Since taking office in 2013, Maduro has showered the armed forces with privileges and powers that have isolated them from the worst of the economic malaise, and guaranteed their loyalty.

Updated at 6:00 p.m. ET

General Motors has stopped operations in Venezuela after its only plant there was illegally seized by authorities, the automaker says in a statement. The details are murky: Multiple employees at the plant tell NPR that they believe auto dealers, not government officials, were responsible for the takeover.

The seizure happened Wednesday, as the "mother of all protests" brought hundreds of thousands of people into the streets to demonstrate against socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

Racked by food shortages and political unrest, Venezuela swelled with what organizers are calling the "mother of all protests" on Wednesday. Demonstrators have taken to the streets in the capital, Caracas, and other major cities across the country to rally against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, who assumed office precisely five years ago.

Throughout the day, those rallies often devolved into clashes between demonstrators and security forces — chaotic, violent scenes rent by tear gas, tossed rocks and even two reported deaths.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson was in Miami Tuesday with a message about Venezuela: People there “are starving.” 

Nelson was briefed on Venezuela’s crisis by Admiral Kurt Tidd, who heads the U.S. Southern Command in Miami. Oil-rich Venezuela is suffering the worst economic collapse in modern Latin American history. And its socialist regime has become a quasi-dictatorship. Nelson said a record 18,000 Venezuelans sought asylum in the U.S. last year.

As a result, he urged the Trump administration to increase legal and economic sanctions on abusive Venezuelan leaders.

Ariana Cubillos / AP via Miami Herald


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COMMENTARY

How much do Venezuelans hate President Nicolás Maduro? Apparently they revile him so much that – in a country where food shortages are so acute the average adult lost almost 20 pounds last year – they’re willing to throw eggs at him.

This is Semana Santa, the Easter Holy Week, a time when Maduro hoped most Venezuelans would pause their angry anti-government protests and head to the beach. Instead they pelted him with stones and eggs as his open car moved through Ciudad Guayana on Tuesday.

Juan Pablo Guanipa is running for governor of the western Venezuelan state of Zulia, and as he campaigns in the state capital of Maracaibo, people complain of food shortages and hyperinflation.

The solution, Guanipa tells them, is to vote against the ruling Socialist Party — which controls 20 of Venezuela's 23 states — and to elect opposition candidates like himself.

It's unclear whether voters will get that chance.

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