Maduro orders treason charges against Guaido over Guyana claim

President Nicolas Maduro

Maduro’s order, which was swiftly followed up by the announcement of an investigation by attorney general Tarek William Saab, ratchets up the stakes in Venezuela’s political crisis, just as Guyana is about to debut as an oil producer from offshore acreage in the disputed territory.

ExxonMobil plans to produce 120,000 b/d of crude starting in March 2020 from the Stabroek block, rising to 750,000 b/d in 2025, a volume that nearly matches Venezuela’s shrunken output.     

The territorial dispute is considered a legacy of British colonialism. Most Venezuelans of all political stripes support the country’s historical claim.

Opposition leader, Juan Guaido

In a fiery speech on state-run television Thursday night, Maduro says the government has evidence of “how the treasonous bandit Juan Guaido is negotiating to give up the Essequibo in exchange for the (UK’s) political support for his phantasmagorical and pretentiously farcical government.”

Guaido, who presides the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared an interim presidency in January 2019, prompting the US and dozens of other countries to withdraw recognition of Maduro in his favor.

“Those who seek to weaken Venezuela, who seek to impose a pro-imperialist government and weaken the Bolivarian armed forces have but a single motive, which is to seize the Essequibo, seize Venezuela’s oil, seize the Gulf of Venezuela and split the country into 20 pieces,” Maduro said. “The attorney general must act expeditiously because the crime is treason against the fatherland.”

Saab “already is reviewing the matter to determine how best to proceed against Guaido, whether it should be handled by civilian or military prosecutors and courts,” an official in Saab’s office said, asserting that he could be arrested soon because he was already stripped of his parliamentary immunity.

Saab is among dozens of Venezuelan officials targeted by US sanctions.

The government-controlled National Constituent Assembly and Supreme Court voted to strip Guaido of his parliamentary immunity in April. While other opposition figures have been detained since then, Guaido has so far remained free.

Guaido has warned that if he is detained, his domestic and international supporters would react. But the White House has repeatedly signaled that it is not prone to military action in Venezuela, despite its outspoken support for Guaido’s interim administration and a raft of sanctions.

Guaido is holding a public rally today in the Lecheria district of Puerto La Cruz, site of state-owned oil company PdV’s stalled 190,000 b/d Puerto La Cruz refinery and the Guaraguao oil terminal. He has frequently led such rallies in Venezuelan cities since July as the huge crowds that initially responded to his calls for nationwide demonstrations have dwindled.

A senior official of Guaido’s Voluntad Popular party in Caracas denied that he agreed to give up the Essequibo claim in exchange for the UK’s support in the period before Guaido declared his interim presidency.

“Maduro is lying and inventing fake crimes to find ways to jail President Guaido illegally,” the party official said. “President Guaido’s position always has been that the Essequibo region historically belongs to Venezuela.”

Another official close to Guaido said yesterday that Maduro’s late predecessor Hugo Chavez effectively abdicated the claim in exchange for Guyana’s political support under Venezuela’s PetroCaribe subsidised oil supply programme for neighbouring countries.
Guaido’s putative foreign minister Julio Borges, who is based on Bogota, blamed Maduro’s government of “giving away the Essequibo” and not defending the country’s interests at the International Court of Justice.

Maduro’s accusation against Guaido is intended to divert attention from the government’s support for Colombian militants hiding in Venezuelan territory, Borges added.

Maduro’s assertion that Guaido made a treasonous territorial deal with London is based on an audio tape that was released on social media yesterday by executive vice president Delcy Rodriguez.

Rodriguez claimed yesterday that the tape captures the voice of Vanessa Neumann, Guaido’s UK envoy, discussing the Essequibo issue with opposition adviser Manuel Avendaño, before Guaido declared himself president on 23 January. In the recording, Neumann is alleged to say that after speaking with officials in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, she recommends that the opposition “drop the topic” of Venezuela’s claim to the Essequibo in order to secure London’s political support.

Argus could not confirm the validity of the tape. Neither the UK nor Neumann has commented. Guyana’s government has not commented either.

Saab says his office is also investigating Avendano and Neumann.

“We are warning of the danger for the Republic, the fact that people unknown in the country, based abroad and that work for other governments, have the licence of an inexistent government to negotiate out resources and assets,” Saab said.

He also announced that Venezuelan navy units seized Guyana-flagged vessel Wanderer allegedly smuggling diesel hidden in 12 ballast tanks. Smuggling is commonplace on Venezuela’s borders.

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  • kamtanblog  On 09/08/2019 at 3:33 am

    Mad-Uro rules Venezuela the
    way Rass-Putin rules Russia.
    Bully and a coward !
    USA and UK now dictatorships ?
    Democracies in name alone !
    150.000 conservative members voted for
    Bojo UK and minority Potus Humpty Dumpty
    Mad-uro rules by dictate and so does
    Putin…maybe both V and R needs
    such leadership. Post WW2 Franco
    returned to Spain as it was in civil war.
    He was brutal but a neccessary evil.
    So was Hitler another.

    Many may have other opinions

    Off my soap box
    Hyde Park Corner
    London…home of freedom of speech

    kamtan UK

  • brandli62  On 09/08/2019 at 10:50 am

    Guyana can be lucky that Exxon found the oil and will be developing the oil fields. The US will not allow Venezuela to interfere with the oil project and they have the military muscle to make their point clear to Venezuela.

    • kamtanblog  On 09/08/2019 at 11:40 am

      Really !
      Will Russia and China not want a piece of the
      action in Venezuela.?
      Don’t expect any military action but certainly
      political/economic intervention.
      Chinese/Russians are already involved/investors in exon Guyana
      Don’t expect another Iraq or Libya invasion
      or will be disappointed.
      If expectations are high one is usually
      Early days

      Kamtan uk

      • brandli62  On 09/08/2019 at 12:37 pm

        Neither the Russians nor the Chinese have to technology to pump oil safely from offshore platforms. Exxon will be professional. They cannot afford an environmental disaster. Russia has no capability to do any invasions in South America. Their aircraft carrier is essentially unusable… By the way, the GDP of Russia is smaller than Italy, Canada, or South Korea.

    • Trevor  On 09/08/2019 at 4:25 pm

      US supporting attempted coup
      In January of this year Juan Guaido leader of the Venezuelan opposition declared himself president and claimed that Maduro’s reelection as president was illegitimate. He was immediately backed by the US and most of its allies including Canada. US opponents China and Russia side with Maduro as does Turkey.
      US has now created more favorable conditions for a military intervention
      A recent article concludes: “With Guyana secured, the US military has effectively surrounded Venezuela with personnel building up in Colombia and Brazil; both countries border Venezuela. The groundwork for a military intervention is being set; it’s only a matter of time before an invasion could be seen. “

      • Trevor  On 09/08/2019 at 4:30 pm

        This is AmeriKKKa, don’t catch ya slipping up!

        I hope that this “Old Army Ranger” gets beheaded from the narco cartels, most of whom are “Black” and not the “Castillian” this racist f***** has posted in the article:

        3 days ago
        Old Army Ranger here, my experience with this part of the world is extensive. Guyana is a corrupt, all black, 4th world **** hole similar to Haiti. I would not want to be stationed there.

        Let me go to Columbia, 99% of the population is Castilian, just like Venezuela.The women are gorgeous, and the government is friendly. I think the Generals made a mistake going Guyana, those people will steal everything from us, that is what they do.

        Time for Maduro to die like the ******* he is.

      • Trevor  On 09/08/2019 at 4:38 pm

        5 days ago
        Guyana obviously borders Venezuela and Guyana has copious amounts of oil and gas, exploited by the usual American and British suspects. Uncle Scam already has Guyana under vassal status.

        The nation of exceptionalists need to suck Guyana and Venezuela’s oil like a parasite, which is strange given the alleged oil reserves of the USSA. lol

        To leverage oil deals in Guyana, the West are exploiting the black and Indian/Asian fractures. It’s the same old divide and rule. Just like Ghana, Tullow Oil keep on getting oil contracts in the black world.

  • Trevor  On 09/08/2019 at 4:48 pm

    US Deploys Troops in Guyana to Tighten Noose Around Venezuela
    ON 09/04/2019 AT 01:29 AM
    Trump has deployed around 600 American troops to the South American country of Guyana for the first time in 40 years, in a bid to strengthen its influence in the region and support its war on Venezuela.


    As Russia and China continue to advance their influence in the region, the ‘New Horizons humanitarian outreach’ programme aims to effectively bolster US’ relationship with the Guyana military forces, amid reports that it is looking to press for military intervention in Venezuela which has been witnessing political and economic turmoil since 2010.

    “Guyana is going to become a larger player in this region, both economically and politically in the future, so it’s important that we are closely tied with them,” said 12th Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Andrew Croft.

    “What we leave is an enduring, physical presence in addition to the partnerships that we build,” noted Croft, citing medical facilities and schools built in 1997 that are still being used today.

    Under the four-month ‘New Horizons humanitarian outreach’ programme, led by the US Air Force, 600 service members engaged in construction of community centers and a women’s shelter in Guyana, which shares border with Venezuela.

    “Guyana sits in a strategic location on the north edge of South America and on the Caribbean. That’s what makes it important. Also, as political change happens in the nation and they become more aligned with us, it’s important for us to make those personal relationships not only through the embassy, but also through the military and the Guyana defense force, which is currently about 3,000 strong with the intent to nearly double it in the upcoming years,” said Croft.

    The carefully planned deployment will act as an “insurance policy” in case regional conflicts break-out, Croft asserted.

    “It builds a foundation for the future so that we’re not stuck in a situation that we’re in the Middle East, where we’re actually doing full-up combat operations.” “The more we can help them build rule of law, education and services functions, the more we can help them build the foundation of a workforce,” he added.

    Croft further raised concerns regarding the growing influence of China and Russia in South America, noting that local citizens, for instance, were operating off of a Huawei network to communicate.

    While the U.S. brings in its own communications, “You wonder about where all that data goes,” remarked Croft, as if the U.S. does not spy on everyone.

    The US official also noticed in Guyana that the local bauxite mines — used to make aluminum — may soon be under new management as both Russia and China weigh investments on operations already underway within the country’s mining industry. Investements that could have been made by U.S. companies if there was sufficient profit.

    “Other folks will step into the breach if there is one or they’ll fill a gap. So if we don’t actively encourage US commerce and US interests, [it will] not only [happen] here, but in the other nations in this region,” Croft underlined.

    In the meantime, the United States has denied seeking military intervention in Venezuela to overthrow the government of President Nicolas Maduro, who often accuses the US of scheming to invade the country to control its vast oil resources and remove the country’s socialist leadership.

  • Trevor  On 09/09/2019 at 6:32 pm

    CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s culture minister has accused Amazon television series “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” of promoting an invasion of the South American nation, following a trailer for the second season that appears to put Caracas at the center of a global conspiracy involving nuclear weapons.

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