Who is Venezuela's legitimate leader? | UpFront (Arena)

Juan Guaidó The Venezuelan opposition leader has US backing

Venezuela plunged into a deep political crisis in January, when Guaido invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing Maduro's May 2018 re-election was illegitimate.

Mr Marrero, 49, is a key aide of Juan Guaidó, recognised by most western nations as the leader of Venezuela.

The chief of staff to the rival president of Venezuela has been arrested in a dawn raid by masked state security agents and accused of terrorism, drawing swift condemnation from the United States.

The leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly said "the chain of command" in the government of President Nicolas Maduro is broken. The country is in an economic meltdown and millions of Venezuelans have fled.

"We're not bluffing when we told Maduro not to do stuff like this (the kidnapping)", John Bolton, Trump's national security adviser told Univision News in an interview aired Friday.

"The toughest sanctions are yet to come", he said.

But these desperate attempts to preserve Maduro's despotic regime also show that his time in Venezuela is coming to an end.

The United States imposed sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil company PDVSA in January, preventing USA companies from dealing with it unless revenues went to a fund available to Guaido, but has not yet slapped sanctions on companies from other countries that do business with PDVSA, a practice known as "secondary sanctions".

Vergara said Thursday's raid, which occurred around 2:00 am (0600 GMT), was carried out by around 15 officers of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service, or SEBIN. "FREE MARRERO NOW!" US Vice President Mike Pence tweeted on Friday. Unfortunately, they have come for me. Maduro's thugs threatened their lives and those of their family members, and they brutally kidnapped Roberto Marrero, President Guaido's Chief of Staff.

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He said on Wednesday that the Trump administration "have "kidnapped" United States $5 billion [in] one of the most criminal, brutal, fascist economic measures which has been seen in the economic history of the world".

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it regretted the decision, but bore no responsibility.

Earlier this week, the United States also placed sanctions on Minerven, Venezuela's state-owned gold-mining company.

"Let it be clear, the government will not hesitate to imprison terrorist groups", Maduro added, according to the pro-government newspaper Ultimas Noticias.

On Thursday, the United Nations human rights office tweeted its concern over Marrero's detention and urged the government to respect due process and reveal his whereabouts.

While one of the arrested has been let off, Marrero still continues to be under detention.

Workers from Venezuela's state oil company, PDVSA, participate in an "anti-imperialist" march to support Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in front of the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, January 31, 2019. 13857, for operating in the financial sector of the Venezuelan economy, following a determination by Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin, in consultation with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, that persons operating in Venezuela's financial sector may be subject to sanctions pursuant to E.O.

The Washington-based IDB is the biggest lender to Latin America.

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