AP NEWS

The Latest: US announces sanctions against Maduro officials

February 15, 2019
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Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. Even while criticizing Donald Trump's confrontational stance toward his socialist government, Maduro said he holds out hope of meeting the U.S. president to resolve an impasse over his recognition of opponent Juan Guaido as Venezuela's rightful leader. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
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Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. Even while criticizing Donald Trump's confrontational stance toward his socialist government, Maduro said he holds out hope of meeting the U.S. president to resolve an impasse over his recognition of opponent Juan Guaido as Venezuela's rightful leader. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local):

12:10 p.m.

The Trump administration has sanctioned Venezuela’s oil chief and key intelligence officials under President Nicolas Maduro, tightening pressure on the embattled leader.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday that PDVSA head Maj. Gen. Manuel Quevedo has been instrumental in propping up what he called Maduro’s illegitimate regime.

The announcement follows recent sanctions targeting the state-run oil company amid a sweeping move to force Maduro from office and support opposition leader Juan Guaido.

The new sanctions also target four high-ranking officials of Venezuela’s national intelligence service and a special police force.

Mnuchin says they’re responsible for corruption and repressing Venezuela’s democracy.

Maduro frequently blames the White House for mounting a coup against him to colonize Venezuela and steal its vast oil resources.

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12:05 p.m.

The Trump administration is sending another large shipment of humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan border in Colombia, this time using U.S. military aircraft to pressure Nicolas Maduro to give up power, according to a leaked State Department email to Congress.

The 250 tons of emergency supplies will begin arriving Saturday to the border city of Cucuta, where tons of boxes of emergency supplies stamped with the U.S. flag are already warehoused waiting for delivery into Venezuela.

The email sent Friday was provided to The Associated Press by a congressional aide who isn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

While the U.S. military has long supported civilian-led humanitarian assistance missions around the world this is the first time they are being used to deploy aid for Venezuela.

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12 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he sees obvious signs that President Nicolas Maduro is starting to understand Venezuelans reject him as their leader.

Pompeo’s spoke with reporters Friday in Reykjavik, Iceland following an exclusive AP interview with Maduro, who said he’s willing to meet President Donald Trump — any time or place.

Maduro says he holds out hope of a meeting to resolve a crisis over America’s recognition of opponent Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader.

Pompeo says Maduro’s request isn’t new, but it reflects that he’s realizing his crisis-riddled nation rejects his “model of governance.”

Pompeo wouldn’t say whether he would send envoy Elliott Abrams to meet Maduro in Caracas.

Maduro told the AP that his foreign minister has met Abrams twice in New York for talks.