Maduro faces rejection from more Guaido supporters

Venezuela's grinding standoff continues with U.S. sanctions

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CARACAS – The members of the Venezuelan military who are benefiting from the socialist party's control of the oil-rich country received some bad news Monday from the U.S. and England.

The Trump administration imposed sanctions against Venezuela's state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., or PDVSA, and the Bank of England denied Maduro’s administration's request to withdraw $1.2 billion in gold.  

The first year of the new sanctions, which are part of the U.S. strategy to support Juan Guaido, the U.S.-recognized interim president, will cost the Maduro administration an estimated $11 billion in lost exports, according to National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Maduro's administration still counts on loans from Russia and China. With their support, Venezuelan law enforcement loyal to Maduro continued to suppress the civilian dissent. Representatives from a group of non-governmental organizations in Venezuela reported on Monday that since Jan. 21 the protests left 35 people killed and 850 people in jail.

According to Gonzalo Himiob, a Venezuelan attorney and director of Penal Forum, 77 of the jailed protesters are teenage girls and boys; 100 of the protesters are women and 673 are men. Investigators with the Observatory of Social Conflict, or the Observatorio de Conflictos in Spanish, said about half of the protesters killed were in Caracas and Bolivar. 

"The most important thing now is to avoid civil war," NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said on Fox New Sunday. 

Despite the Maduro administration's aggressions, Guaido was calling for another day of protests Saturday. He also named 49-year-old Venezuelan politician Carlos Vecchio as the chargé d'affaires in the U.S., and the Trump administration named U.S. diplomat Elliott Abrams as the new liaison to Venezuela.

As Venezuelan diplomats in Washington returned to Caracas on Saturday, Maduro’s top military attache in Washington, Colonel Jose Luis Silva, and Scarlet Salazar, a Venezuelan consul in Miami, declared their loyalty to Guaido. 

"The armed forces have a key role in restoring democracy in the country," Silva said. 

They were part of the response to a proposed legislative measure that would extend amnesty to members of the armed forces who refuse to follow orders from the Maduro administration. 

Ricardo Hausmann, a key economic minister in the 1990s who runs the Venezuela Project at Harvard, told Bloomberg he is helping Guaido with a plan to rebuild the nation, from the economy to energy. With Venezuelan allies China and Russia holding veto power, there was little chance the UN body would agree to take action. 

Local 10 News Digital Reporter/Producer Andrea Torres is reporting from Miami.

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