US revokes visas of Venezuela assembly members

  08 February 2019    Read: 2284
US revokes visas of Venezuela assembly members

'We will continue to take action against those destroying Venezuela’s democratic institutions,' Elliott Abrams says.

The U.S. has revoked visas for members of Venezuela's Constituent Assembly amid an ongoing push to ramp up pressure on Caracas, the special envoy for Venezuela said Thursday.

Elliott Abrams did not lay out an exact number of members of the body that have been affected, nor did he specify their names, but he told reporters at the State Department the action targets the "illegitimate" body.

"While I cannot name names because visa information is protected, I can state that we will continue to take action against those destroying Venezuela’s democratic institutions,” he said. "This body has usurped many of the constitutional powers of the legitimate National Assembly, and embodies [Venezuelan President Nicolas] Maduro’s destruction of democratic institutions."

Venezuela's Constituent Assembly was established by Maduro in 2017 to replace the country's opposition-controlled National Assembly.

The visa revocations come amid Washington's continued diplomatic and economic push to force Maduro to cede power to National Assembly leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president on Jan. 23.

The U.S., Canada, most countries in Latin America and over 20 European nations have lent their backing to Guaido following the announcement. But Maduro has refused calls for him to step down, insisting Washington is orchestrating a coup against his government.

Abrams continued to call for Maduro to hand off the reins, saying it does not matter where the Venezuelan president goes, as long as he is no longer at the helm of the South American nation.

China, Iran, Russia and Turkey have put their weight behind Maduro.

Venezuela has been rocked by protests since Jan. 10 when Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycotted by the opposition.

Guaido has called for the demonstrations to continue in the country in a bid to ramp up pressure on Maduro.

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