Venezuela crisis

YAMIL LAGE / AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The Cuban government announced economic measures this week to seek dollars in a bid to stay afloat in the midst of an acute financial crisis triggered by its dependence on Venezuelan oil and new U.S. sanctions.

On Tuesday, Cuban Vice President Salvador Mesa and several ministers announced on television that the government was going to lower the prices of household appliances and other items on the condition that Cubans pay in dollars.

The move is an attempt to obtain a larger percentage of remittances sent from abroad.

AP

Washington on Tuesday pledged an additional $98 million in aid to Venezuela, saying the funds will be used to support civil society, human rights organizations and independent media.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) signed what it called a “historic bilateral agreement” with representatives of Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó administration.

Amid the chaos and misery that have engulfed Venezuela lies a strange parcel of tranquility, tucked within a valley surrounded by poplar trees and mountains some 20 miles south of the Caribbean coast.

It is a field populated by dozens of lanky teenage boys who are spending this particular evening — as they often do — galloping around the grass in pursuit of an oval ball.

These impoverished Venezuelans are training in the skills of a sport not often seen in a South American nation that's mad about soccer, baseball and horse racing: They are playing rugby.

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.”

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.

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