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The Latest: Bolton: US to send humanitarian aid to Venezuela

February 2, 2019
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Opposition National Assembly President Juan Guaido greets supporters upon his arrival to the Venezuelan Central University for a conference on economic plans for reviving the country in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. An independent U.N. human rights monitor says economic sanctions are compounding a "grave crisis" in Venezuela. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

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

9:45 p.m.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton has tweeted that the United States plans to send humanitarian aid to Venezuela despite President Nicolas Maduro’s refusal to accept aid.

Bolton’s comments come after opposition leader Juan Guaido said late Thursday that he would defy the government aid ban and receive large convoys of medicine into Venezuela with the help of neighboring nations.

Bolton tweeted on Friday: “Pursuant to the request of Interim President Juan Guaido, and in consultation with his officials the US will mobilize and transport humanitarian aid_medicine, surgical supplies, and nutritional supplements for the people of Venezuela. It’s time for Maduro to get out of the way.”

Guaido declared last week that he’s interim president of Venezuela and vowed to topple Maduro’s administration. He’s backed by the United States and roughly two dozen nations.

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3:30 p.m.

Venezuelan exiles who fled their homeland are telling U.S. Vice President Mike Pence that the moment has come to intervene and overthrow President Nicolas Maduro.

Pence told Venezuelans in Miami that Washington was working toward a “peaceful transition” so that opposition leader Juan Guaido comes to power, and he reassured them the Trump administration would continue to weaken Maduro.

“This is no time for dialogue,” Pence said at a church, prompting loud cheers among Venezuelan exiles. “It is time to end the Maduro regime.”

Before his speech, Pence sat down with a college professor, who says he was physically assaulted by armed pro-government groups. He also heard from other refugees such as a Venezuelan city councilman, who says he was accused of being a CIA agent.

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3:10 p.m.

Chevron Corp. says its operations in Venezuela will continue normally for the “foreseeable future” despite newly imposed U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

Chevron has four joint-venture operations for exploration and production with PDVSA, as the Venezuelan company is known. The Trump administration has banned U.S. companies from doing business with PDVSA but allowed a six-month grace period for companies with ongoing operations in the South American country.

Chevron CEO Michael Wirth says that, “For the foreseeable future, we feel like we can maintain a good stable operation and a safe operation on the ground in Venezuela.” He spoke Friday in a conference call with Wall Street analysts.

Wirth also said Chevron’s refining operations in the U.S. are well-prepared to handle an expected disruption of Venezuelan crude supply due to the sanctions. Wirth says Chevron had a contingency plan in place in anticipation of the sanctions and has alternate sourcing.

He says most of the Venezuelan crude oil it buys goes to its Pascagoula refinery in Mississippi. He said “we will keep the refinery full with crude.”

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1:15 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has arrived in Miami for a meeting with people who have fled Venezuela as Washington heightens its efforts to oust Nicolas Maduro from the presidency.

Pence is also meeting with community leaders, former elected officials and Florida senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott in the Miami suburb of Doral to talk about the South American nation’s political crisis.

The Trump administration has backed opposition leader Juan Guaido as he has declared himself the interim president of Venezuela.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart are also participating in the round table.

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Noon

A prominent Venezuelan lawmaker says that a group of European Union and Latin American countries aiming to solve the political crisis in Venezuela should support the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro without negotiations.

Francisco Sucre heads the international committee of the opposition-led National Assembly in Venezuela. He says that the “international contact group” announced on Thursday by the EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, “should help to cease the usurpation of power by Maduro and establish a transitional government until new elections.”

“There is no possible discussion here, Maduro has to leave,” Sucre told The Associated Press on Friday in Madrid, where he is wrapping up a three-day European tour to enlist support for opposition leader Juan Guaido.

The lawmaker says he welcomes the EU’s involvement “because we are going to need its cooperation during the initial stages of the recovery of our country.”

The European Parliament has called on the EU’s member states to recognize Guaido as the interim president. The socialist government of Spain, which has strong historical, cultural and economic ties to Venezuela, has said it will do so on Monday if Maduro doesn’t call a general election before Sunday.

Sucre says European support for Guaido will influence others.

He said: “Power is evaporating from Maduro’s hands with the passing of the hours.”

“We have been contacted by diplomatic workers across Europe who are ready to take a step forward, but they are waiting for the right moment.”

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11:35 a.m.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido says he’s respectfully declining offers from the presidents of Mexico and Uruguay to negotiate with President Nicolas Maduro.

Guaido on Friday made public a letter that he’s sending to both leaders. He urged them to be on the right side of history, saying that remaining neutral in the political struggle aligns them with Maduro.

Guaido declared last week that he’s interim president of Venezuela and vowed to topple Maduro’s administration. He’s backed by the United States and roughly two dozen nations.

He says his priority is to hold democratic elections.

The United States also rejects offers from Mexico, Uruguay and the Vatican to mediate a dialogue.

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