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Venezuela expels German envoy for backing Guaido as United States tightens sanctions

Venezuela expels German envoy for backing Guaido as United States tightens sanctions”

German ambassador to Venezuela Daniel Martin Kriener delivers a news conference next to Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognized as the country's rightful interim ruler, and accredited diplomatic representatives of the European Union in Caracas, Venezuela February 19, 2019.

Juan Guaido strongly condemned the decision by President Maduro to expel the German ambassador to Caracas, and urged the envoy to "remain" in Venezuela.

Most Western countries, including Germany, recognize Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate head of state and back his plan to install a transition government ahead of free elections.

The Virginia-born journalist was held for about 12-hours by a counterintelligence military agency, Weddle's employer, WPLG Local News 10 reported.

Last week, Venezuela deported a team from USA television network Univision after anchor Jorge Ramos said authorities detained them at the presidential palace.

He noted that the situation remains very fluid both on the ground in terms of worldwide recognition of opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself president.

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The German foreign ministry in Berlin confirmed the expulsion order.

Weddle lived in Venezuela since June 2014, covering the economic turmoil, political struggle and humanitarian crisis in the area.

Dozens of counties, including the USA and Canada, have recognized Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate leader.

Mr Guaido denounces Mr Maduro as a scammer whose re-election past year was fraudulent, and says his regime is to blame for an economic meltdown that has led to widespread food and medicine shortages and hyperinflation.

The National Assembly leader remains free despite the threat of arrest by the government.

"The United States is putting foreign financial institutions on notice that they will face sanctions for being involved in facilitating illegitimate transactions that benefit Nicolas Maduro and his corrupt network", Bolton said in a statement.

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Pence told the Latino Coalition that the USA will revoke 77 visas held by officials in the Maduro government or their relatives, saying "the time has come to liberate Venezuela from Cuba".

A spokesman for the State Department said the USA was aware of the missing journalist and issued a warning to President Nicolás Maduro's government. "They were interested in a story I did about the current atmosphere in the armed forces".

"Our, Europe's, support for Juan Guaido is unbroken".

"It is unacceptable for Nicolas Maduro to detain Cody Weddle, an American citizen and a journalist, reporting to the world on what is happening in Venezuela".

Washington has continued to tighten the screws on its campaign of sanctions to force Maduro from power, revoking the visas of 77 people linked to the regime, including officials and their families.

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