President Nicolas Maduro has claimed
Maduro said that he has no doubt that the US President ‘gave the order to Colombia to kill me’ and that if something happens to him ‘Donald Trump will be responsible’.
Despite his hard line against Trump, Maduro said he is willing to negotiate with Guaido, who is recognized as president by the US and most Western nations as of last week.
Meanwhile, a Russian chartered Boeing 777 – carrying just two crewmembers and no passengers – landed in Caracas, allegedly to carry 20 tons of gold from the Central Bank of Venezuela out of the country.
Claims: Nicolas Maduro said that he has no doubt that the US President Donald Trump has given an order to the Colombian government – and its mafia – to assassinate him
Military backing: President Nicolas Maduro and Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino, left, are seen taking part in a ceremony during military exercises at the Libertador Air Base in Maracay, Aragua state, Venezuela, on Tuesday
Maduro counts on the support of the military, and is unlikely to back down unless that changes
Maduro is seen addressing troops during a military exercise at the Libertador Air Base in Maracay, Aragua state, Venezuela
Venezuelan MP Jose Guerra, a former head of research at the Central Bank, took to twitter to claim the plane had been chartered to spirit away $840million worth of gold, but offered no concrete evidence to back his claims.
The Nordwind Airlines flight travelled from Moscow to Caracas on Monday, despite the commercial travel company not offering any flights from Russia to Venezuela.
The Venezuelan government has denied that there is a Russian plane at Simon Bolivar International Airport and Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it has no information about the charter jet, according to
Maduro’s remarks in an interview with Russian state-owned RIA Novosti news agency on Wednesday came amid a dire political crisis in Venezuela.
‘Without a doubt, Donald Trump gave the order to kill me, told the Colombian government, the Colombian mafia, to kill me,’ Maduro said.
‘If something happens to me, Donald Trump and Colombian President Ivan Duque will be responsible.’
His comments came just hours after White House national security adviser John Bolton was seen on TV holding a notepad containing the note ‘5,000 troops to Colombia’, which neighbours Venezuela.
Video footage shared on social media earlier today allegedly shows armoured Colombian Army vehicles near the border with Venezuela, however their purpose is not yet known.
Maduro, who spent Tuesday taking part in military exercises at an air force base, also told Ria Novosti that he is ‘willing to sit down for talks with the opposition for the sake of Venezuela’s peace and its future’.
However, while Maduro opened up for talks with Guaido, his government is preparing an investigation that could lead to the opposition leader’s arrest.
Yesterday, Venezuela’s Supreme Court imposed a travel ban on Guaido and froze his bank accounts in apparent retaliation for US sanctions.
Blame: The embattled Venezuelan President said that if something happens to him, US President Donald Trump, pictured last week, ‘will be responsible’
Mixed messages: Maudro opened up for dialogue with the opposition at the same time as his government imposed a travel ban on opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president of Venezuela last week, and froze his bank accounts
The 35-year-old opposition lawmaker, who is president of the National Assembly, has called for clean elections, arguing that Maduro fraudulently won a second term last year. Guaido is offering an amnesty to tempt military officials to join him.
Maduro, who accuses Guaido of staging a U.S.-directed coup against him, counts on the support of the military, and is unlikely to back down unless that changes. Russia and China are also key benefactors, giving him diplomatic backing at the U.N. Security Council.
A former union leader who succeeded his charismatic mentor, the late President Hugo Chavez, Maduro has overseen a shrinking economy and the migration of more than 3 million Venezuelans fleeing food and drug shortages and hyperinflation.
Guaido called for more protests on Wednesday and a mass march on the weekend, in a bid to keep up pressure on Maduro in the streets. Wednesday’s action would not be a major march, but a series of small concentrations, Guaido said.
The U.N. human rights office said the protests had so far led to the deaths of more than 40 people.
Government supporters have also attended large rallies led by Maduro’s political allies, while the president visited military bases including overseeing live-fire exercises in recent days.
Students walk past a painting of US President Donald Trump on a wall in Caracas on Tuesday
Venezuelan opposition demonstrators, chant slogans during a protest against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, last week
He ordered the creation of 50,000 popular defense units, community groups he said would be charged with the ‘integral defense of the fatherland.’ While it was not clear if they would be armed, the strategy reflects the government’s concern the United States could try to defeat Maduro militarily.
The Pentagon has refused to rule out military action, although is it not considered likely by most experts. Trump’s top advisers include Cold War-era hawks.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met Guaido’s designated envoy to the US on Tuesday. Pence said they discussed recent sanctions actions, ‘highlighting that these deprive Maduro and his cronies access to corrupt income and … preserve the country’s wealth for the people of Venezuela.’
While the Venezuelan Army officially backs Maduro, there have been several defectors who have fled the country and are calling for the US government to give them military assistance and weapons.
‘As Venezuelan soldiers, we are making a request to the US to support us, in logistical terms, with communication, with weapons, so we can realize Venezuelan freedom,’ former soldier Carlos Guillen Martinez told
The sanctions are also expected to hit daily life hard in Venezuela, where public spending is almost entirely funded by oil revenues. The government is eager to blame Guaido for the measures, which, once they begin to bite, could diminish his popularity.
Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek Saab sought the preliminary investigation of Guaido on the basis that he had helped foreign countries interfere in internal matters.
Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno, announcing the investigation, the travel ban and the financial restrictions, said the decision was taken expressly to ‘protect the integrity of the country.’
In a tweet, national security adviser Bolton warned of ‘serious consequences for those who attempt to subvert democracy and harm Guaido.’