Venezuelan Foreign Minister Calls on Judiciary to Act Against Guaido

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2019-04-03

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Venezuela's foreign minister said Wednesday that opposition leader and Juan Guaido, who declared himself president, has violated his country's constitution and called on the judiciary to take action.

"He is in breach of most part of the constitution, so the judiciary has to take care of those who violated the Venezuelan law," Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told reporters Wednesday in Beirut.

Arreaza's remarks came as he met with Lebanon's president and foreign minister and before planned meetings with the Hezbollah militant group and officials in Syria. The government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has warm relations with Lebanon and Syria.

Lawmakers loyal to Maduro stripped Guaido late Tuesday of the immunity from prosecution he enjoyed as a member of parliament. This put Guaido at risk of arrest, with Maduro's government accusing him of violating the constitution when he declared himself interim president in January, a move that has been endorsed by the U.S. and some 50 other countries.

Stripping Guaido of immunity came a day after Venezuela's chief justice said Guaido should be jailed for violating a Supreme Court-imposed ban on leaving the country. Guaido last month visited several South American countries to consolidate regional support as he seeks to oust Maduro.

U.S. National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said the U.S. has plans to help revitalize Venezuela's ailing economy. Kudlow told reporters Wednesday in Washington that the rescue and restructuring plan calls for providing cash to citizens, as well as food and other financial aid.

The U.S. State Department also announced new aid initiatives for Venezuelan citizens, saying it is "pre-positioning humanitarian aid in Curacao" and had already "pre-positioned over 540 metric tons of assistance in Colombia and Brazil."

Russia, a staunch supporter of Maduro, is providing helicopters to Venezuela. Sergei Ostapenko, an executive of the state-owned Russian Helicopters holding company, said Wednesday in Moscow if the Venezuelans request more helicopters, "we shall give them to them." Last week, Russia launched a training center for Venezuelan pilots who fly Russian aircraft.