Venezuela crisis: US revokes visas of some Maduro allies

Trump administration slaps US travel ban on members of Venezuela's constituent assembly.

    Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends a gathering in support of his government in Caracas [Carlos Barria/Reuters]
    Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends a gathering in support of his government in Caracas [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

    The Trump administration is imposing a ban on travel to the United States by members of Venezuela's government-controlled constituent assembly, a senior US official said on Thursday.

    The US has claimed the constituent assembly, headed by President Nicolas Maduro, is illegitimate, pledging its support to opposition leader Juan Guaido. 

    Elliott Abrams, Washington's special envoy on Venezuela, said the time for dialogue with Maduro "has long passed", except to negotiate his departure, and reinforced US backing for Guaido, the self-proclaimed interim president who has earned recognition from the US and a number of other countries.

    News of the US-imposed travel restrictions came as European and Latin American leaders called on Thursday for a dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition, warning against rash intervention in the country.

    Russia and China continue to back Maduro's government and have warned the US and others not to intervene. 

    Maduro and his supporters say the US is attempting to carry out a coup in Venezuela. In 2002, the opposition attempted to overthrow then-President late Hugo Chavez in a failed coup attempt. 


    Also on Thursday, trucks carrying humanitarian aid for the crisis-struck civilians lined up near the Venezuelan-Colombian border.

    It was unclear if Maduro's government would allow aid into the country. The Venezuelan military barricaded a bridge between the two countries with a tanker and two cargo trailers in an apparent attempt to block the aid. 

    'Chaotic process' 

    Meanwhile, the European Union-backed International Contact Group on Venezuela called for a more hands-off approach than that advocated by the US and some other Latin American nations.

    The group, in a communique after its inaugural meeting in Uruguay's capital Montevideo, said it would send a technical working group to Venezuela to push for elections as quickly as possible, adding that overly forceful intervention in the country could aggravate the crisis.

    The EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the group, launched late last month, was pushing for a peaceful and political solution, adding that a resolution ultimately must come from the people of Venezuela.

    "This is not only the most desirable result but is the only result if we want to avoid more suffering and a chaotic process," Mogherini said in Montevideo alongside Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez.

    "The biggest dilemma facing Venezuela is between peace and war, which is why we are insisting in our call for calm from the parties involved and the prudence of the international community," Vazquez said.

    The group's communique said it would reconvene at the beginning of March to measure the progress of its plan.

    EU member states in the group include France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Britain. Latin America members include Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay.


    In power since 2013 and re-elected last year in a vote opposition figures claim was a sham, Maduro has presided over an economic collapse marked by widespread shortages of food and medicine and hyperinflation. An estimated three million Venezuelans have left the oil-rich OPEC-member country.

    SOURCE: News agencies