Uruguay meeting on Venezuelan crisis seeks "peaceful solution", says European Union envoy

Uruguay meeting on Venezuelan crisis seeks

A top White House official said Friday that an Federal Bureau of Investigation raid on a bank in Puerto Rico is an example of the administration using all available "tools" to pressure Venezuela's socialist leader, Nicolas Maduro.

Under Maduro's direction, Venezuela has descended into economic chaos marked by hyperinflation, recession and shortages of basic necessities, including food and medicine.

Maduro says allowing foreign aid supplies would open the way for United States military intervention to oust him.

The aid, which arrived in Cucuta on Thursday, includes flour, lentils, rice and cooking oil as well as personal hygiene items like toothbrushes and soap, Colombian, Venezuelan and U.S. officials told reporters.

"At the same time, what they did with humanitarian aid is a cheap spectacle". The first trucks of food to arrive at the distribution point on the border are enough to feed only 5,000 people for 10 days, according to the U.S. Embassy in Colombia, equivalent to less than 0.02 percent of the population.

The U.S. government also sees European allies as likely to do more to prevent Maduro from transferring or hiding Venezuela government assets held outside the country, the U.S. official said.

Elliott Abrams, who leads the Trump administration's special envoy to Venezuela, said on Thursday that several countries have offered to take in Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro.

While the 35-year-old has the support of powerful western nations, other global powers such as Russia, China and Turkey continue to back the Maduro regime and have denounced what they call foreign meddling in Venezuela's internal affairs.

They want to invade and intervene in Venezuela - they say, as they said then - in the name of democracy and freedom.

He was referring to the FBI's raid on Wednesday against the BSJI bank in San Juan, Puerto Rico, over alleged violations of US sanctions imposed on those who do business with Venezuela's government.

President Maduro's continued rule seems to rest heavily on military support, but despite the USA confidence there is no sign that the military's position is about to shift decisively against him. They squeeze us by the neck and then make us beg for crumbs'.

He told the cheering crowd: 'We will keep going until we achieve our objective'.

In a plea for the aid to pass through, exiled politician and Guaido's spokesperson in Colombia, Lester Toledo, sent a message to Venezuela's military.

Guaido is trying to force Maduro from power, aiming to set up a transitional government and hold presidential elections.

The US, EU and many Latin American countries branded it a fraud as prominent opposition leaders were unable to stand after being exiled, jailed or barred.

"We believe these to be those first couple pebbles before we start really seeing bigger rocks rolling down the hill", the official said this week, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Mexico participated at the group's inaugural meeting on Thursday in Montevideo, but did not sign a statement calling for new presidential elections in Venezuela.

"You're deaf to the reality of a revolution with 20 years of democratic patrimony; you only follow the script written by the extreme right", he said.

"There is no plan B. The only plan is the definite change in Venezuela", he said.

Maduro, who last weekend rejected an European Union ultimatum to organize snap presidential elections, said he would welcome the mission.

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