UN Says U.S. Sanctions Could Worsen Venezuela Crisis

The United Nation’s high commissioner for human rights warned that recent U.S. sanctions aimed to topple Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro could instead worsen the nation’s crisis, Fox News writes.

Commissioner Michelle Bachelet told the Human Rights Council of the U.N. on Wednesday that U.S. measures targeting Venezuela’s state-run oil company could have repercussions on people’s basic rights and well-being.

The United States is among some 50 nations around the world that back opposition leader Juan Guaido, who seeks to oust Maduro. Washington has sanctioned Maduro and dozens in his administration since 2017. In late January, the U.S. Treasury targeted PDVSA, aimed at depriving Maduro of billions in hard cash.

However, according to Maduro, the U.S. is leading a coup aimed at stealing the world’s largest oil reserves, which Venezuela possesses.

As the crisis deepens, Venezuelan intelligence agents have detained a senior aide to opposition leader Juan Guaidó after a raid on his Caracas home, say legislators. Guaidó has demanded the immediate release of his chief of staff Roberto Marrero, whose whereabouts are unknown, BBC informs.

The nearby home of opposition legislator Sergio Vergara was also raided, as he was briefly detained. The operation could signal a crackdown on the opposition by embattled Maduro, analysts say.

Guaidó said Marrero had been “kidnapped” and that “two rifles and a grenade had been planted” at his aide’s home during the raid.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the raid and called for Marrero’s immediate release. “We will hold accountable those involved,” he said on Twitter.

Shortly after Guaidó declared himself interim leader, his assets were frozen and the Supreme Court, dominated by government loyalists, placed a travel ban on him, BBC adds.

However, the 35-year-old opposition leader defied that ban last month when he toured Latin American countries to garner support and had been widely expected to be arrested upon his return.

Guaidó has continued to call for Maduro to step aside and urged the security forces, which have mainly been loyal to the government, to switch sides.

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