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The Latest: US Accredits New Venezuela Envoy from Opposition

The Latest: US Accredits New Venezuela Envoy from Opposition

Sunday, 27 January 2019 06:39 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local):

7:25 p.m.

The U.S. State Department has accepted a new Venezuelan envoy in Washington who was appointed by opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Guaido is head of Venezuela's opposition-controlled congress and proclaimed himself interim president last week in opposition to socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that Carlos Alfredo Vecchio will now have authority over Venezuela's diplomatic affairs in the United States.

Vecchio is a former aide to Leopoldo Lopez, another opposition leader who is under house arrest in Venezuela. Vecchio fled his homeland during anti-government unrest in 2014 fearing he would be arrested.

Pompeo's statement says Vecchio met with Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, who reaffirmed the administration's strong support for Guaido.

The U.S. and many other nations argue that Maduro's re-election last May was invalid because his strongest opponents were barred from running. Maduro maintains he is the democratically elected president and says Guaido is part of a U.S.-led coup.

6:30 p.m.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido says he is going to put a spotlight on authorities responsible for killing anybody demonstrating against socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

Guaido said Sunday on Twitter that he wants to bring international attention to members of the armed forces, prosecutors and judges linked to recent deaths, which he calls a "massacre."

The young head of the opposition-controlled congress declared himself Venezuela's interim president last week as part of a campaign to remove Maduro. His declaration during a day of widespread anti-government demonstrations has been followed by violent clashes between protesters and security forces that have killed at least two dozen people in recent days.

Guaido is urging U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to visit Venezuela and witness the crisis herself.

Opposition supporters have spent Sunday handing soldiers leaflets explaining a proposed law that would provide amnesty to anyone who helps return Venezuela to democracy.

Maduro maintains he is the democratically elected president and says Guaido is part of a U.S.-led coup. The U.S. and many other nations argue that Maduro's re-election last May was invalid because his strongest opponents were barred from running.

2:20 p.m.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has renewed his calls for soldiers to abandon Nicolas Maduro's socialist government, speaking after a Mass honoring more than two dozen civilians who were killed in in anti-government protests.

Guaido was swarmed by television cameras as he stepped out of a Roman Catholic church on Sunday and said he'll continue to press forward with plans to install a transitional government in Venezuela led by himself and members of the National Assembly.

Opposition supporters staged visits to military bases across Venezuela earlier in the day, handing soldiers copies of an amnesty law passed by the National Assembly. Some military commanders ripped the handouts apart, but no violence was reported.

Meanwhile Maduro toured two military bases west of Caracas, where he played war-games with soldiers and urged them to stay loyal to his government.

1:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump's national security adviser is sending a new warning to the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

John Bolson sent a tweet Sunday warning there would be "a significant response" to "any violence and intimidation against U.S. diplomatic personnel, Venezuela's democratic leader, Juan Guiado, or the National Assembly itself."

The U.S. last week announced it considers Guaido the legitimate leader of Venezuela on the grounds that the socialist Maduro's May re-election was fraudulent and the congress led by Guaido is the only legitimately elected national body in the country — assertions Maduro fiercely disputes.

The U.S. refused to accept Maduro's order to close its Caracas embassy, though Maduro's government on Saturday said it would ease the deadline for the diplomats to leave.

12:30 p.m.

Pope Francis is calling for a "just and peaceful solution" to Venezuela's political crisis that respects human rights and works for the good of all people.

Francis said Sunday from nearby Panama that he was feeling particularly close to Venezuelans in these days of crisis.

The Vatican hasn't said if it would back opposition leader Juan Guaido in his claim for the presidency, which has been backed by the United States and other regional leaders.

Several years ago, the Vatican was frustrated in its attempt to mediate between socialist President Nicolas Maduro and Venezuela's opposition, which has the backing of many Venezuelan bishops.

In his comments Sunday in Panama, Francis "asked the Lord to seek and find a just and peaceful solution to overcome the crisis, that respects human rights and exclusively seeks the good of all people."

12:25 p.m.

Israel has recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's interim president.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement Sunday saying Israel was joining "the United States, Canada, most of the countries of Latin America and countries in Europe in recognizing the new leadership in Venezuela."

Venezuela severed diplomatic relations with Israel in 2009.

Last week Guaido declared himself interim leader on grounds that Maduro's re-election last year was fraudulent.

1 a.m.

Venezuela has defused a potential showdown with the United States by suspending a demand that U.S. diplomats leave the country even as Washington called on the world to "pick a side" in the South American nation's fast-moving crisis.

Venezuela's Foreign Ministry says it has extended a deadline for U.S. diplomats to leave following it's rupture in relations. It says it will provide a 30-day window for negotiating with U.S. officials about setting up a "U.S. interests office" in Venezuela and a similar Venezuelan office in the United States.

Venezuela had given U.S. diplomats 72 hours to leave after the U.S. recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's legitimate president rather than Nicolas Maduro.

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

   
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The latest on the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local):7:25 p.m.The U.S. State Department has accepted a new Venezuelan envoy in Washington who was appointed by opposition leader Juan Guaido.Guaido is head of Venezuela's opposition-controlled congress and...
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Sunday, 27 January 2019 06:39 PM
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