Venezuela to prosecute lawmakers who backed uprising


On January 23, Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country's Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country's capital of Caracas.

Mr Guaido said Venezuela's Constitution allowed him to do so after the opposition-controlled but sidelined legislature declared Mr Maduro a usurper over his controversial re-election past year.

Maduro - who has said Guaido is a puppet of Washington - has sought to show that the military remains on his side, but opposition leaders and US officials have said that support is tenuous.

Figuera was head of the SEBIN intelligence agency.

A U.S. Navy hospital ship will embark on another humanitarian mission to help countries cope with an influx of Venezuelans fleeing a deep economic and political crisis, the Trump administration announced Tuesday.

Mr Pence hinted that the U.S. could impose sanctions on the Venezuelan judges if they used the court as "a political tool for a regime that usurps democracy, indicts political prisoners and promotes authoritarianism".

The Trump administration has called on Maduro's senior officials and military to throw their support behind Guaido, offering the removal of sanctions should they change course.

Five people died and 233 were arrested in protests sparked by a failed military uprising against Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro last week, Attorney General Tarek William Saab said on Monday.

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Under Maduro's socialist government, the Venezuelan economy has collapsed, with mass starvation, medical shortages and violence ensuing as a result.

Trump has repeatedly refused to rule out the use of military force, though he has emphasized he wants a peaceful transition even as the Pentagon has prepared contingency options for consideration.

Earlier, Venezuela's Supreme Court opened a criminal action against seven opposition lawmakers for treason and rebellion.

Saab considered the reactions of some governments against the attempted military coup to be positive, saying that this "means that peace is winning, we're going to have a dialogue".

Of the 30 million people left behind, the United Nations says nearly a quarter are in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

"I believe that Juan Guaido would already be acting as president of all of Venezuela if the Cubans have not been present", Thornberry said, adding that the USA should avoid "direct military engagement" in Venezuela, but also make sure not to rule it out if necessary.

The Venezuelan military is central to Mr. Maduro's grip on the South American nation, which is suffering from a lack of food and reliable electricity despite its oil resources.