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Venezuela crisis: US lifts sanctions on general who broke ranks

May 9, 2019 5:17 am

The US has lifted sanctions on a Venezuelan general who broke ranks from the Nicolás Maduro regime, saying it hoped it would push others to follow.

Vice-President Mike Pence on Tuesday said the US would “consider sanctions relief for all those who step up”.

Mr Pence reiterated US support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has been recognised by more than 50 nations as Venezuela’s “interim president”.

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Mr Guaido is challenging the legitimacy of President Maduro.

US sanctions will be lifted on Manuel Cristopher Figuera, Venezuela’s former intelligence chief.

“We hope the action that our nation is taking today will encourage others to follow the example of General Cristopher Figuera and members of the military who have also stepped forward,” Mr Pence said in a speech at the US state department.

Mr Pence’s remarks came as Venezuela’s Supreme Court ordered the prosecution of seven MPs over their alleged participation in a failed military uprising led by Mr Guaidó.

The opposition leader rejected the ruling, accusing the court of “only responding to the orders of Maduro”.

Mr Pence accused Venezuela’s Supreme Court of becoming a “political tool” of the Maduro government and called on it to “return to its founding principles”.

“If it doesn’t, the US will hold all 25 of its magistrates accountable,” he said.

The US Treasury sanctioned the court’s president, Maikel Moreno, and the seven principal members of its constitutional chamber in 2017.

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