Venezuelan forces detain Guaido's chief of staff

US imposes new sanctions on Venezuela

Maduro, who has overseen a dramatic collapse of the OPEC nation's economy, has called Guaido a puppet of the USA and said he should "face justice", but has not explicitly ordered his arrest.

The US has warned Nicolas Maduro's government against touching the opposition leader or his inner circle, threatening unspecified consequences.

They follow a raft of other sanctions imposed by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump in recent months against Maduro, top government officials, and state oil firm PDVSA.

Food and medicine are scarce, and more than 3 million Venezuelans have fled the country.

In a message posted on Twitter, Bolton said:"Maduro has made another big mistake". While sanctions have hurt the government, he said, it won't be enough to force a "surrender". "When pressed about calling for a foreign intervention, the opposition leader said he would 'demand whatever is required" to 'put an end to the usurpation'.

The designation of Banco de Desarrollo Economico y Social de Venezuela, or BANDES, also includes four of its subsidiaries, according to the Treasury Department.

Mr Guaido said that Mr Marrero had been taken by Sebin, the Venezuelan intelligence agency, and was being detained at an unknown location.

Guaido tweeted that he did not know where Marrero was, adding: "He must be released immediately".

He said weapons and foreign cash were found in a predawn raid on Marrero's home.




Maduro's government gave details of the alleged plot on state television, with Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez saying "hitmen" from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras had been recruited "using big sums of money" and sent to Colombia ahead of missions into Venezuela to carry out "targeted assassinations" and "sabotage".

Rosales said she thought Maduro was too fearful to have Guaido himself arrested.

St Lucia's Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said that those attending Friday's meeting "all recognise there's a problem in Venezuela".

On Thursday, the United Nations human rights office tweeted its concern over Marrero's detention and urged the government to respect due process and reveal his whereabouts. "We have already identified some", he said on state television, showing screenshots from Marrero's phone as proof and accusing the USA of running the operation.

In just over a month, on April 28, increasingly harsh U.S. sanctions on Venezuela will intensify to a critical level with a ban on all oil sales to the United States, Venezuela's main crude buyer.

Maduro says his government is the victim of an "economic war" led by his political adversaries and blames USA financial and oil sector sanctions for the country's situation.

Trump has reiterated that "all options" - implicitly including military action - are on the table for dealing with Venezuela.

Maduro's forces have reinforced obstacles blocking a border bridge linking Venezuela and Colombia to prevent Guaido's supporters trucking in U.S. aid. He later entered the country without being detained.

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