Venezuela suspends flights from Portugal's TAP after Guaido flight

Caracas, February 19 (RHC)-- Venezuela has announced it will suspend TAP Air Portugal flights into and out of the country for 90 days, accusing the carrier of allowing opposition leader Juan Guaido’s uncle to bring explosives onto a flight to Caracas last week.

Announcing the measure on Twitter, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez left open the possibility of applying fines and other measures in the future.  “Venezuela must be respected,” Rodriguez said.

Guaido returned to Venezuela’s main airport on a TAP flight last Tuesday after a three-week international tour aimed at drumming up support for his campaign to oust constitutionally-elected President Nicolas Maduro.

Authorities then detained Guaido’s uncle, who was traveling with him on the flight from Portugal, accusing him of bringing explosive material into the country.  Guaido, who is recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate president by more than 50 countries, dismissed those allegations as baseless.

TAP said in a statement on Monday it complied with all legal and safety requirements by authorities in both Portugal and Venezuela, and did not understand the reasons for the suspension.   Portugal’s government said it would open an investigation into the incident in light of Venezuela’s accusations.

Edited by Ed Newman
  • Published in World

Aruban authorities deny fake news about Venezuelan gold seizure

Oranjestad‎, February 18 (RHC)-- Aruba's Justice Minister Andin Bikker has denied a fake news story that claimed the government of this Caribbean nation had confiscated a Venezuelan plane carrying more than 900 kilos of gold.

The story, which has already been reported around the world, relates how the Venezuelan aircraft was detained after an emergency landing in Aruba by the authorities of the Queen Beatrix Airport.  It adds, moreover, that the air terminal administration confiscated the cargo that the plane was carrying: 932 kilos of gold, almost a ton, packed in luxury suitcases.

It also adds that three Venezuelan crew members were arrested in the operation and that, after the interrogation process, they would be extradited to the United States.  Andin Bikker, representing the government of Aruba, denied this information categorically on the website of the Ministry of Justice of the island, assuring that "the story is fictitious, it is not based on a real fact.  "We will not confirm a story that never happened," added Aruba's director of civil aviation Edwin Kelly.

Unfortunately, so many media outlets have echoed this rumor, without even confirming the information with our local media or Aruban authorities," Bikker said.  Among the more than 20 sites that spread the false news are Diario de las Américas, Infobae, El Español, among others.

Edited by Ed Newman
  • Published in World

Juan Guaido involved in Venezuela's biggest corruption case ever

Caracas, February 17 (RHC)-- Venezuela's Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez has presented new evidence on a series of corruption acts in which the U.S.-backed opposition lawmaker Juan Gaido is the main protagonist.

Rodriguez unveiled a corruption case linking Guaido with Alejandro Betancourt-Lopez, who faces trials for laundering $1.2 billion in the United States and $4 billion in Europe.

Since the opposition lawmaker has repeatedly denied having ties with such a businessman, Rodriguez showed photos of a meeting held in the Alamin castle (Spain) which was attended by Betancourt-Lopez, Juan Guaido's father, and Rudy Giuliani, who is President Donald Trump's lawyer.

Minister Rodriguez recalled that some details of this information had been previously published by Reuters and CNN​​​​​​, although the press would appear not to show that plot of personal connections.

Nevertheless, "we will insist on the denunciation of the greatest plot of corruption that Venezuela's history has known," he said and highlighted that mainstream private media hide "Guaido's brutal robbery. They still have a hard time holding back the stench of so much rot."

Alejandro Betancourt-Lopez, who is the cousin of the opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez, would have financed "Popular Will", the right-wing party from which Guaido separated on January 5, once the businessman's dealings became internationally known.​​​​​​​

"Guaido, videos of your dad talking to you, videos of Betancourt-Lopez talking to you, and videos of you speaking wonders of Betancourt Lopez, are going to be leaked," Rodriguez said.

The Bolivarian Minister also indicated that his country has sued the U.S. government for "the theft of our foreign assets and bank deposits... The looting equals up to US$116 billion."​​​​​​​

Edited by Ed Newman
  • Published in World

Venezuela supports oil cuts proposed by OPEC

Caracas, Feb 12 (Prensa Latina) The Ministry of Oil of Venezuela has announced its support of the recommendation to cut the production of crude oil presented by the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

With its support to the production adjustment, Venezuela reaffirms its policy to achieve stability of the hydrocarbons international market, and help the just relation between the countries that produce, consume and invest in oil.

During the extraordinary meeting in Vienna, the JTC, presided by Saudi Arabia and Russia, recommended additional production cuts during the second trimester of the year, to face the drop in oil demand as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic.

The body recommended extending the voluntary production adjustments until the end of 2020, and proceed with and additional adjustment until the end of the second trimester, as per a communiqué, which does not specify, however, the extent of the initial cut.

The committee's recommendations are a result of the coronavirus epidemic having a negative impact on the oil demand and oil markets, says the text issued by the current OPEC president, Minister of Energy of Algeria, Mohammed Arkab.

The next meeting of the organization is to take place in March 5th and 6th, when it will be decided how many oil barrels will be retired from the market.

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Trump Puts More Pressure on Cuba, Targets Cuban Doctors Program

The campaign against the doctors aims to strangle the revenue they bring in, much of which goes into Cuba’s health and social services, according to analysts.

Donald Trump’s administration is targeting the Cuban medical program that has helped some of the most impoverished communities worldwide, in a bid to exert more pressure on Cuba’s economy, according to a report published Tuesday by the Guardian.


Cuban Doctors Arrested, Harassed In Bolivia Return Home Safely

Washington is using a whole host of allegations to thwart the program. It has been accusing Havana of undermining democracy and interfering in the internal affairs of the countries where the doctors operate.

Among other allegations, the U.S. claims that the Cuban government is “exploiting” the medical staff deployed on the missions.

Officials in Cuba, backed by analysts who studied the work of the medical missions, retort that the U.S. is using this claim to enforce further its policy of asphyxiating Cuba’s economy in the hope of bringing down its regime.

The campaign against the doctors, which includes attempts to convince them to defect, is little more than an effort to strangle the amount of foreign revenue that they bring in, much of which put back into Cuba’s health and social services, the Guardian cited critics as saying.

“The [U.S. policy] is targeting the two main sources of external income for Cuba, first tourism and now medical services,” explained Pavel Vidal Alejandro, a Cuban-born academic at the Xavierian University in Colombia.


Bolivians in Poor Communities Suffer Lack of Healthcare

“Medical services represent around 60% of Cuba’s total foreign income. It’s the old policy of applying a high-pressure cooker strategy in the hope it will produce social protests. That didn’t happen in the past and is not happening now.”

U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo is leading the campaign against the Cuban program. He has described the presence of Cuban doctors in countries from Venezuela to Brazil and Ecuador as a “sinister” interference in their affairs and praised countries like Bolivia that have expelled them.

Recent political changes in Latin America exacerbated Washington’s campaign against the Cuban doctors, leading to the withdrawal of the missions from several countries, including Bolivia, Brazil, and Ecuador, where far-right regimes aligned with Trump took over left-wing governments. The departure of Cuban doctors from these countries saw severe consequences for the most vulnerable populations.

USAID, the leading U.S. development agency, has also played an important role, offering to fund organizations to expose negative aspects of the Cuban scheme.

The program is known as “Cuban doctors” was founded more than 50 years ago after Fidel Castro’s revolution. It is currently active in over 60 countries.

It has provided healthcare across the globe, from indigenous Amazon peoples to impoverished areas in Africa to the victims of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake.

  • Published in Cuba

China and Russia vow to defy U.S. sanctions for supporting Venezuela

Moscow, February 11 (RHC)-- The Russian government has rejected U.S. threats to impose new sanctions against several Russian companies for their cooperation with Venezuela in the oil sector.

Last week, the U.S. special representative for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, warned Russia that its support for Venezuela will cost them econmically as Washington is looking to sanction them.  "We classify this practice as harmful.  We believe that many countries suffer because of this practice and we consider it contrary to international law," Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov told reporters in regards to Washington's plans.

"The United States, especially, and several other countries, unfortunately use these trade and other restrictions very frequently against Third World countries, which are illegal under international law."  Peskov added that "they use this practice more and more often in recent times to ensure their own interests in international commercial and economic affairs."

On the other hand, in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, in a media briefing session offered online, said China is against any foreign interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela and against the application of unilateral sanctions.  

The United States imposed sanctions on the airline Conviasa, the largest airline in Venezuela.  The Treasury Department published on its website that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) included 40 aircraft of this airline in the list of specially designated nationals and blocked persons (SDN).

"China's position on the problem of Venezuela is clear and remains unchanged. We stand against any foreign interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela and against unilateral sanctions," said the diplomat.

Since 2019, the United States in particular, and some other countries due to pressure from Washington, began applying new sanctions to Caracas, which seriously affected its economy, people's lives and Venezuela's relations with other nations, Geng Shuang recalled.

"We urge other countries to take into account the humanitarian reality of Venezuela, stop imposing uniteral and extraterritorial sanctions, and work to create necessary conditions that will lead to the stability of their economic growth," said Geng.

Edited by Ed Newman

  • Published in World

Venezuelan justice files charges against Colombian ex-senator Merlano

Caracas, Feb 6 (Prensa Latina) The Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela filed charges on Wednesday against former Colombian Senator Aida Merlano at the Penal Judicial Circuit of the Metropolitan Area in Caracas, at the request of the Public Ministry. On Tuesday, Attorney General Tarek William Saab pointed out that the ex-lawmaker was captured by Venezuelan police in Zulia state, while carrying a fake ID under the name of Landis del Carmen Ferrer.

He added that along with the fugitive, Yeico Manuel Vargas, of Colombian nationality, was also charged with covering up and association to commit a crime.

They are in jail under supervision by Venezuelan judicial authorities, the prosecutor said on Twitter.

In 2018, Merlano was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Colombia for corruption and illegal possession of weapons.

  • Published in World
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