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Tensions spill over in Caracas as Venezuelans take to the streets in an uprising vs Maduro

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

Tens of thousands of people marched in Caracas in support of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Tuesday made his strongest call yet to the military to help him oust President Nicolas Maduro, but there were no concrete signs of defection from the armed forces leadership.

Tens of thousands of people marched in Caracas in support of Guaido, clashing with riot police along the main Francisco Fajardo thoroughfare. A National Guard armoured car slammed into protesters who were throwing stones and hitting the vehicle.

Seventy-eight people were injured in the incidents, most of them hit with pellets or rubber bullets, said Doctor Maggi Santi of the Salud Chacao health centre in Caracas. None of the injuries were life-threatening, he added.

Early on Tuesday, several dozen armed troops accompanying Guaido clashed with soldiers supporting Maduro at a rally in Caracas, and large anti-government protests in the streets turned violent. But by Tuesday afternoon an uneasy peace had returned and there was no indication that the opposition planned to take power through military force.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN that “as we understand it” Maduro had been ready to depart for socialist ally Cuba, but had been persuaded to stay by Russia, which has also been a steadfast supporter.

Maduro did not make a formal speech on Tuesday but said on Twitter: “Nerves of steel! I call for maximum popular mobilisation to assure the victory of peace. We will win!” He said he had spoken with military leaders and that they had shown him “their total loyalty.”

Guaido, the leader of the National Assembly, invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency in January, arguing that Maduro’s re-election in 2018 was illegitimate. But Maduro has held on, despite economic chaos, most Western countries backing Guaido, increased U.S. sanctions, and huge protests.

Venezuela is mired in a deep economic crisis despite its vast oil reserves. Shortages of food and medicine have prompted more than 3 million Venezuelans to emigrate in recent years. (REUTERS)

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Locsin: No need to review US-PH Defense Treaty

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodor Locsin Jr. And U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, prior to their meeting at the DFA Office in Pasay City, Philippines. Secretary Pompeo is on an official visit to the Philippines. / DFA photo by Clark Galang

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. believes that there is no need to review the United States’ Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines.

In a report on UNTV News and Rescue’s Ito Ang Balita by Nel Maribojoc, Locsin cited an “old theory of deterrence” in support of his opinion against reviewing the 68-year old defense deal during a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Pasay City on Friday (March 1).

Locsin also expressed confidence in the repeated assurances of the US that it would assist the Philippines in case of an act of aggression.

“In vagueness lies the best deterrence. I don’t believe that going down into the details is the way the sincerity of the American commitment will be shown. They will respond, depending on the circumstances, ” he said.

Locsin, however, acknowledged that the proposal to review the treaty between Manila and Washington “requires further thought.”

It can be recalled that in 2018, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana sought a review of the 1951 US-PHL Mutual Defense Treaty over its relevance, given the Philippines’ dispute with China in the South China Sea. President Rodrigo Duterte, in the past several occasions, has also expressed doubt if the U.S. would ever come to the country’s aid against China’s growing aggression in the disputed territories.

Pompeo, meanwhile, assured the Philippines that the Mutual Defense Treaty would cover the South China Sea, where China reclaimed some reefs and built artificial islands.

Under the accord, the two countries will support each other in case of attack by an external party in the pacific region.

“China’s island building and military activities in the South China Sea threatened your sovereignty, security, and economic livelihood, as well as the United States. As the South China Sea is the part of the pacific, any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft , or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defense obligations under Article 4 of our Mutual Defense Treaty,” Pompeo said.

Malacañang, on the other hand, still wants to pursue the proposal for review despite the assurance given by Pompeo.

“I’m sure the Secretary of Defense, Lorenzana would want to review despite the pronouncement. There may be some kinks in that treaty that needs to be clarified. So, I think there is still a need to review despite the policy statement. We will have to evaluate,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said during an interview with Malacanang reporters on Friday.

Meanwhile, Washington’s top diplomat also committed to support the Philippine Armed Forces modernization program and strengthen the two countries’ cooperation in combating terrorism and illegal drug trade.

After meeting DFA Sec. Locsin, Pompeo met with a group of Filipino business leaders and visited the US Embassy in Manila before leaving the Philippines. – Robie de Guzman

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Venezuela opposition delivers first cargo of humanitarian aid -Guaido; Maduro presents government strategy

by admin   |   Posted on Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido surrounded by students in a meeting in Caracas, Venezuela on February 11, 2019 | Reuters

Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaido, said on Monday (February 11) his team had delivered a first cargo of the humanitarian aid that has become a flashpoint in his tussle with President Nicolas Maduro, without specifying how it had received it.

Guaido, who has been recognized by most Western nations as Venezuela’s legitimate president over the past month, tweeted a photo of himself surrounded by stacks of white pots of vitamin and nutritional supplements. He did not say from where or whom they came.

Venezuela’s opposition has been coordinating an effort by Western nations, companies and organizations to deliver aid to Venezuela where malnutrition and preventable disease have proliferated in recent years as the economy has nosedived.

Maduro has said this is part of a U.S.-orchestrated strategy to undermine and ultimately overthrow him. He says he will not allow this “show.”

Maduro on Monday launched a government programme to consolidate Venezuela’s identity, aiming to improve exports. Under the slogan “Venezuela open to the future,” it aims to enhance the tourist, commercial, economic and advertising activities of the country.

The United States last month recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader after he declared himself president. Guaido argued Maduro’s re-election last year was a sham. The United States has since been joined by a majority of Western nations. — Reuters

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Venezuelan doctors demand government allow aid into country

by admin   |   Posted on Monday, February 11th, 2019

Venezuelan doctors demonstrating on the Colombian side of the border near where the humanitarian aid is being stored to demand Venezuela allow it into the country | Reuters

A group of Venezuelan doctors demonstrated on the Colombian side of the border on Sunday (February 10) as they demanded President Nicolas Maduro’s government allow humanitarian aid into their country.

Amid a hyperinflationary economic collapse that has caused malnutrition and the exodus of millions of people, humanitarian aid has become a flashpoint in an intensifying political crisis.

Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido said last week a global coalition that includes the United States was sending food and medicine to collection points in Colombia, Brazil and an undisclosed Caribbean island before delivering the aid into Venezuela.

But Maduro denies there is even a crisis, saying it is part of a U.S.-directed plot to undermine and overthrow his government and has said his government will not let the aid in.

Venezuela’s opposition has so far only publicly announced the arrival of aid in the Colombian border town of Cucuta, where it is now being stockpiled as Venezuelan authorities have made it clear they will not allow it to enter the country.

Doctors at the demonstration said the food and medicine from the aid could be immediately used to befit their patients. — Reuters

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