Venezuela crisis

Yuletsy Martinez, 19, and her husband crossed the border into Colombia when she was pregnant with her second child. They left because they couldn't find food or medical care in Venezuela. Martinez gave birth at a hospital in Colombia. "They took good care of me. And they helped me there," Martinez told NPR correspondent Ari Shapiro in a report that aired on All Things Considered.

JUAN BARRETO / AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro regime continued lashing out after it was hit with punishing economic sanctions earlier this month, charging three opposition lawmakers with treason and other crimes.

But the country’s leadership stopped short of dissolving the National Assembly — the Venezuelan equivalent of Congress — or calling early legislative elections as some had feared.

On Monday, the country’s Supreme Court — dominated by ruling party judges — accused three opposition congressmen of treason, conspiracy and rebellion, among other charges.

Fernando Llano / AP

The interim president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, warned Sunday night that the Nicolás Maduro regime plans to dissolve the National Assembly in the next few hours in reaction to the sanctions imposed by Washington on the Venezuelan economy.

Guaidó, whose presidency is recognized by the United States and more than fifty other nations, said the country is at the gates of a new stage of repression that could lead to the massive arrest of the assembly’s deputies. Guaidó is the leader of the assembly.

Martin Chahin / DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

The U.S. is working with Colombia, Brazil and other regional partners on how to assist Venezuela if the embargo-like sanctions announced by the White House this week ultimately force President Nicolás Maduro to step down, the head of the U.S. Southern Command said.

Navy Adm. Craig Faller, the Miami-based head of U.S. forces in South America, said the nations are working on “planning and discussing what we could do, and will do for the ‘day after Maduro,’ when there’s a legitimate government, when we can go in and really assist the people of Venezuela.”

JOSÉ A. IGLESIAS / MIAMI HERALD

President Donald Trump late Monday signed an executive order imposing a harsh, Cuba-style economic embargo on Venezuela as part of Washington’s broad push to force leader Nicolás Maduro out of power.

In a letter to Congress, Trump said the measure was necessary in light of Maduro’s “continued usurpation of power” and ongoing human rights abuses in the South American nation.

The new measures are expected to be announced Tuesday, as representatives from dozens of countries will be meeting in Peru to discuss the Venezuela crisis.

The White House is on the verge of taking steps to protect thousands of Venezuelans living in the United States from deportation, even as it finds new ways to restrict the ability of asylum-seekers from other countries to claim refuge in the U.S.

Jesús Parra spent four years as a police officer in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas. He patrolled the streets, provided security at events and even guarded political prisoners. Now, he parks cars at a funeral home for spare change in the Colombian city of Cúcuta.

This is not what Parra, 27, had in mind when he deserted the police force and sneaked across the Colombian border in March.

Associated Press

Venezuela's government registered nearly 5,300 killings during security operations last year linked to cases of "resistance to authority," the U.N. human rights chief reported Thursday, denouncing a "shockingly high" number of extrajudicial killings.

Amid the worst economic meltdown in Venezuela's history — a crisis that has forced thousands of businesses to shut their doors — one unlikely product is flying off the shelves: the equivalent of Venezuelan tequila.

Called cocuy, the alcoholic beverage was first produced by indigenous groups 500 years ago. It has long been stigmatized as moonshine for drunks and poor people. But with hyperinflation driving up the cost of beer, wine and conventional spirits, many Venezuelans are turning to this drink of their ancestors, which is easier on the pocketbook.

ARIANA CUBILLOS / AP via the Miami Herald

The United States on Sunday accused Venezuelan authorities of torturing a Venezuelan Navy officer to death, saying the act of “barbarism must stir us into action.”

In a statement, the State Department said Navy Officer Rafael Acosta Arévalo died while in the custody of Nicolás Maduro’s “thugs and their Cuban advisers.”

Auri Chirinos keeps close watch over her 2-year-old twin daughters as she walks with them through La Vela de Coro, a fishing town on Venezuela's Caribbean coast. She's extremely protective of the toddlers — and for good reason.

She recently lost her eldest daughter, who drowned while trying to reach the island of Curaçao.

At a soup kitchen in the western Venezuelan city of Maracaibo, hungry and bedraggled men, women and children line up for free lunch. But it's meager fare: They each get a bottle of milk and a few scoops of rice mixed with eggs and vegetables.

Just a few years ago, the lunch program, which is run by the Catholic Church, provided full meals with meat and chicken, as well as fruit juice and even dessert. But amid a deep economic depression and an outbreak of looting in the city, dozens of Maracaibo businesses that used to donate food have closed down.

Crowds of Venezuelans lined up at two international bridges leading to Colombia on Saturday, as the border between the countries opened for the first time in four months.

Thousands of people crossed over, seeking food, medicine and basic supplies. For months, Venezuelans have been dealing with power outages, hyperinflation and increased violence due to the deepening political and economic crises in the country.

Juan Guaidó's war room is a kind of no man's land.

The opposition leader, who is recognized by dozens of countries as Venezuela's rightful head of state, works out of a mostly vacant office in a Caracas high-rise with a couple of sofas, broken swivel chairs and carpet that could use a cleaning.

Guaidó has spent the past five months moving among safe houses and borrowed office space to keep government security agents, who have arrested dozens of opposition leaders, off balance. No one bothers to fix things up because his team may be moving on soon.

Tim Padgett / WLRN.org

Venezuela’s authoritarian regime is still in power. But that hasn’t stopped the country’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó from conducting a parallel government.

Guaidó declared himself Venezuela’s legitimate president this year, and the U.S. and more than 50 other countries recognize him.

Tuesday night his ambassador to the U.S., Carlos Vecchio, visited Doral to talk with Venezuelan expats about a new website where they can register for consular services Guaidó hopes to offer them, such as new Venezuelan passports.

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