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As opposition girds in Venezuela, Maduro makes concession

31 January 2019

Venezuela's Supreme Court Tuesday agreed to a prosecutor's request to prevent opposition leader Juan Guaido from leaving the country while the Socialist government conducts a criminal probe into his activities.

The National Assembly represents a multi-party opposition to Maduro, who won a disputed election previous year that the opposition members and several democratic countries have called fraudulent. Guaido is offering an amnesty to tempt military officials to join him. Russian Federation and China are also key benefactors, giving him backing at the UN Security Council.

Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro warned the USA that it risks a Vietnam War-style quagmire if it launches a military offensive against his country - while at the same time conceding that he's willing to begin negotiations with opposition leaders.

"There are several governments, organizations globally, which are demonstrating their honest concern about what is happening in Venezuela, they have called for a dialogue", RIA quoted Maduro as saying. Massive protests would be expected.

Guaido, 35, says Maduro is "illegitimate" and launched a direct challenge to the former bus driver's authority last week when he declared himself acting president.

Sources have told Reuters private military contractors who do secret missions for Moscow were in Venezuela.

"They have prepared a campaign to justify a coup d'etat in Venezuela that has been prepared, financed, and actively supported by Donald Trump's administration, as the public knows". Wednesday's action would not be a major march, but a series of small concentrations, he said. Hundreds have also been arrested, including children.

After waves of daily protests in recent years failed to dislodge Maduro, the opposition has adopted a different strategy, said opposition leader and lawmaker Juan Andres Mejia, which is to demonstrate the will to protest without raising expectations among supporters or provoking the government into a violent response.

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Speaking at the walkout, Guaido said he wasn't losing any sleep over the probe.

Maduro has blamed his country's woes on the United States, which he accuses of working with the opposition to topple the government.

Though the Venezuelan was reprising an old allegation that critics scoff at as a smokescreen, there was speculation of military plans after Trump adviser John Bolton appeared on Monday with a pad showing the words "5,000 troops to Colombia". On Wednesday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was clear about the need for Maduro to to step aside: "To be clear: Nicolas Maduro lacks any democratic legitimacy".

Guaido thanked Trump for the US commitment to freedom and prosperity in Venezuela and the region and noted the importance of planned protests across the country against Maduro on Wednesday and Saturday, she said in a statement.

Venezuela's political crisis intensified after the National Assembly was replaced with the Constituent Assembly in August 2017, which was criticized as a move undermining democracy and prompted some Western countries to impose sanctions on Venezuela leading to more economic hardships for the country. The government is eager to blame Guaido for the measures, which, once they begin to bite, could diminish his popularity. Maduro has sought to neutralise Guaido by ordering him not to leave the country and freezing his assets.

Describing himself as an admirer of U.S. history, Maduro said that he hopes that reasonable United States citizens will prevail, adding that America "is a great country, and it is much more than Donald Trump".

Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaidó sits down with FOX Business' Trish Regan Primetime for a one-on-one interview to discuss the disputed president Nicolás Maduro, new US sanctions and the future of Venezuela.

As opposition girds in Venezuela, Maduro makes concession