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Vice President Mike Pence Claims, United States “Will Not Tolerate” Detention of Roberto Marrero of Venezuela

A collapse in world energy prices, corruption and failed socialist policies have destroyed oil-rich Venezuela's economy.

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks to the media at the White House in Washington, Jan. 9, 2019. VOA

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has said the United States “will not tolerate” the continued detention of Roberto Marrero, chief of staff of Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Marrero was arrested Thursday during a pre-dawn raid on his home. Venezuelan Interior Minister Nestor Reverol explained the arrest, saying a “large number of weapons” were found in Marrero’s house.

Pence made the statement in an op-ed piece for the Miami Herald Friday. He warned that the United States would not tolerate Marrero’s detention or intimidation of the Guaido government, which the U.S. recognizes as the legitimate government of Venezuela.

Personal belongings are seen on the floor at the residence of Roberto Marrero, chief of staff to opposition leader Juan Guaido, after he was detained by Venezuelan intelligence agents, according to legislators, in Caracas, Venezuela, March 21, 2019.
Personal belongings are seen on the floor at the residence of Roberto Marrero, chief of staff to opposition leader Juan Guaido, after he was detained by Venezuelan intelligence agents, according to legislators, in Caracas, Venezuela, March 21, 2019. VOA

​Pence also called out Cuba, Russia, and China for supporting the administration of embattled president Nicolas Maduro and profiting from it.

He said Cuba is allowing its military and intelligence services to train, support, and equip Venezuela’s secret police; Russia vetoed a resolution at the United Nations calling for unfettered aid to Venezuela; and China is refusing to grant a visa to economist Ricardo Hausmann to attend the Inter-American Development Bank’s annual meeting, which it is hosting.

Pence called Maduro a “corrupt dictator” and said those nations are holding Venezuela back in its “steady march towards freedom.”

“Nicolas Maduro must go,” he said.

Guaido, head of the National Assembly, has declared himself interim president after disputed elections. The United States and about 50 other countries have recognized him as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. But Maduro has vowed to remain, leaving the two men in a struggle for power.

U.S. citizens detained

Also Friday, the State Department issued a statement of concern for “all U.S. persons” detained in Venezuela. Prison officials reportedly are preventing lawyers and families of detained Americans from seeing or bringing food to the detainees.

Six U.S. citizens, executives of the oil company Citgo, have been in jail since November 2017 for alleged money laundering and embezzlement.

The two U.S. senators from Texas, home to five of the six detainees, say the six are being held in deteriorating conditions. The legislators also say Venezuelan authorities have denied the detainees a trial and contact with the State Department.

Citgo is a U.S.-based refinery and gasoline marketer primarily owned by Venezuela’s state-run oil company, PDVSA.

President Donald Trump has said all options are on the table for Venezuela, but he has not said under what circumstances he might consider using U.S. military force.

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A collapse in world energy prices, corruption and failed socialist policies have destroyed oil-rich Venezuela’s economy.

Food and medicine are scarce, and more than 3 million Venezuelans have fled the country. (VOA)

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U.S. To End Waivers For Iran Oil imports

Oil exports are a key source of revenue for Tehran, which has been hit hard by the reimposition of U.S. sanctions.

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (file photo)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. RFERL

U.S. President Donald Trump has decided not to reissue waivers in May allowing importers to buy Iranian oil without facing U.S. sanctions, the White House said in a statement on April 21.

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates “have agreed to take timely action to assure that global demand is met as all Iranian oil is removed from the market,” the White House said.

“This decision is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue,” the statement added.

The decision means sanctions waivers for five nations, including China and India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey, won’t be renewed when they expire on May 2.

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The move is part of the Trump administration’s tough line on Iran. VOA

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington has had “extensive and productive discussions with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other major producers to ease this transition and ensure sufficient supply.”

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (Republican-Texas) applauded the end of oil waivers for Iran.

“This decision will deprive the ayatollahs of billions of dollars that they would have spent undermining the security of the United States and our allies, building up Iran’s nuclear and ballistic-missile programs and financing global terrorism,” he said.

The move is part of the Trump administration’s tough line on Iran.

“We will continue to apply maximum pressure on the Iranian regime until its leaders change their destructive behavior, respect the rights of the Iranian people, and return to the negotiating table,” Pompeo said in an April 22 statement.

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“This decision is intended to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue,” the statement added. Pixabay

Oil exports are a key source of revenue for Tehran, which has been hit hard by the reimposition of U.S. sanctions.

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Ahead of Washington’s announcement, an unamed Iranian Oil Ministry source told the semiofficial Tasnim news agency that the United States will fail to cut Iranian oil exports to zero.

“Whether the waivers continue or not, Iran’s oil exports will not be zero under any circumstances unless Iranian authorities decide to stop oil exports…and this is not relevant now,” Tasnim quoted the unnamed “informed source” as saying. (RFERL)