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Pence to announce ‘clear actions’ in Venezuela crisis

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Venezuela has plunged into a major political crisis amid a growing row over President Nicolas Maduro’s future as the country’s leader.

Maduro started a second term on January 10, following a widely boycotted election last year that many foreign governments refused to recognise.

On January 23, Juan Guaido, leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself interim president.

Shortly after Guaido took an oath swearing himself in, US President Donald Trump publicly recognised him as the country’s leader.

Maduro accused Guaido of staging a coup and ordered his arrest.

Pence to announce ‘concrete steps’ in Venezuela crisis
US Vice President Mike Pence is set to announce “concrete steps” and “clear actions” to address the Venezuela crisis when he meets on Monday with regional leaders in Bogota, a senior US administration official said.

The official declined to comment on what the new measures would entail ahead of Pence’s speech, which he will deliver to a summit of the Lima Group around 15:30 GMT after he meets with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.

UN’s high commissioner for human rights condemns violence
Michele Bachelet condemned violence at points on the Venezuelan border where opposition figures have been trying to bring in aid shipments.

The former Chilean president focused her criticism on excessive use of force used by Venezuelan security forces, as well the involvement of pro-government groups.

“The Venezuelan government must stop its forces from using excessive force against unarmed protesters and ordinary citizens,” she said.

Bachelet urged Maduro’s government “to rein in” pro-government groups reportedly using force against protesters.

“The use of proxy forces has a long and sinister history in the region,” she added, “it is very alarming to see them operating openly in this way in Venezuela.”

Clashes along the border in Brazil
Renewed clashes have broken out between protesters and Venezuelan national guardsmen at the border with Brazil.

Dozens of Venezuelans who had come to the Brazilian border city of Pacaraima began throwing rocks across the closed border at Venezuelan troops, who responded with tear gas and buckshot.

Globo television broadcast images of a Brazilian soldier advancing to the boundary line on Sunday to appeal for calm from the Venezuelan soldiers and to urge protesters and journalists to move back.

Cleanup begins on Venezuela-Colombia border after unrest
Venezuelan migrants on Sunday helped clean debris from a bridge where troops loyal to President Nicolas Maduro a day earlier fired tear gas on activists trying to deliver humanitarian aid in violent clashes that left two people dead and some 280 injured.

Colombian President Ivan Duque reinforced security around two international bridges near the city of Cucuta and ordered that they remain closed for 48 hours to allow for the cleanup effort.

Colombia: At least 285 wounded in border clashes
Civil defence officials in Colombia said at least 285 people had been wounded in clashes at border bridge crossings.

On Monday, the Lima Group will meet and discuss “the events that took place on Saturday in Venezuela,” Colombia’s President Ivan Duque wrote.

“[What happened] is clearly object of reproach by the international community, due to the barbarism and violence.”

“[On Monday] we will also debate how to strengthen the diplomatic siege that we have imposed [against] the dictatorship in Venezuela,” he added.

[source: Al Jazeera]
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