Venezuela crisis

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.

Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press

Diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving Venezuela’s crisis accelerated on Thursday as the government and opposition sent envoys to negotiate in Norway, though the two sides’ mutual mistrust and differences on key issues could prevent any quick solution.

The envoys’ trip appeared to be primarily a mediation attempt by Norway aimed at reducing tensions that exploded into street violence when the opposition called in vain for a military uprising on April 30.

Associated Press

Drug and money-laundering investigators joined by U.S. federal agents raided a villa linked to one of Venezuela's richest men, Dominican officials say.

Billionaire Samark López Bello was recently indicted by federal prosecutors in New York for allegedly violating sanctions on Venezuela. He has close ties to former Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami, who is accused by the U.S. of being linked to Hezbollah and drug traffickers.

The vice president of Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly was arrested by intelligence agents Wednesday night in Caracas. The U.S. government warns that there will be consequences if he isn't released.

Edgar Zambrano was in his car when he was surrounded by SEBIN intelligence agents. When he refused to leave the car, agents towed it with Zambrano inside to the SEBIN headquarters. The incident was tweeted by Zambrano as it happened.

Flickr/Creative Commons

A week after Rick Scott called for the U.S. military to intervene in Venezuela amid Juan Guaidó’s attempt to oust Nicolás Maduro from power, the U.S. Senate’s biggest hawk on Venezuela is calling for more.

Scott said Wednesday that the U.S. should consider a naval blockade of Cuba to enforce existing sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry, which remains under Maduro’s control. Scott’s announcement is the latest escalation in rhetoric after Guaidó failed to oust Maduro last week.

Lolita De Sola has been singing about home. An emerging musician from Caracas, she made the hard decision last year to leave Venezuela and flee north to Mexico City. The move allowed De Sola to release her first album, Cattleya — which she says she couldn't have made at home given Venezuela's current political and economic turmoil.

"When you have a dictatorship or crisis, the first thing that goes away is culture," she says. "Because you need food. You need more, you know, basic stuff first. Then culture."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that the Trump administration is preparing to pull the trigger on a broad range of options to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, and demanded that interfering countries end their involvement in the beleaguered nation's affairs.

In a string of television appearances, Pompeo suggested the fall of Maduro's government is imminent and that the support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó remains strong despite his failed attempt last week to lead a large-scale defection against the socialist leader.

In the northeast corner of Colombia, a few miles from the Venezuelan border, rows of khaki-colored tents rise from the desert sand. Filled with Venezuelans escaping economic disaster back home, the tents make up Colombia's first refugee camp near the border.

With Venezuela In Chaos, Mangoes Are Unsung Heroes

May 1, 2019

During these troubled times in Venezuela, the mango has a new identity.

"We call them 'the noise takers' because they calm down the noise that our stomachs make when we are hungry," says Danilson Hernández, who manages a modest business that upholsters vehicles in Maracaibo, Venezuela.

And there are a lot of hungry people in crisis-ridden Venezuela. Nearly 90 percent of families don't earn enough money to buy the food they need, according to the latest Life Conditions National Survey, run annually by college professors.

Updated at 3 p.m. ET

The plane was on the tarmac. Nicolás Maduro, the disputed president of Venezuela, was ready to head to Havana amid widespread international condemnation and the threat of being ousted. But the Russian government talked him out of leaving.

Twitter

This post was updated at 3:40 p.m.

Anti-government protestors in Venezuela were engaged in running street battles with security forces, as interim President Juan Guaidó said factions of the military were supporting his high stakes push to oust Nicolás Maduro.

Vandaluna Media

Every evening, the members of the Latin Grammy-winning rock group Viniloversus gather at their studio near the Little River area of Miami. They are hard at work practicing for an upcoming tour. The band’s recording gear sits ready, with meters lit brightly on computer screens.

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