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Venezuela targets Juan Guaido with probe, travel ban and asset freeze in apparent retaliation for US sanctions

Published: January 31, 2019
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Source: ABC AU

Venezuela's Government has struck back at self-declared interim president Juan Guaido, with the Supreme Court imposing a travel ban and freeze on his bank accounts despite a warning from the United States of "serious consequences" if it did so.

The court also said prosecutors could investigate Mr Guaido, in apparent retaliation for sweeping US sanctions on oil firm PDVSA.

The sanctions mean the state-run company may not be able to fulfil contracts with North American buyers, the Government of President Nicolas Maduro said.

Aimed at driving Mr Maduro from power, the sanctions were the strongest measures yet against the 56-year-old former union leader who has overseen economic collapse and an exodus of millions of Venezuelans in recent years.

The measures triggered higher global oil prices, angry responses from China and Russia and the first serious moves against Mr Guaido since he challenged Mr Maduro's claim on the presidency last week.

The Supreme Court approved a request from Venezuelan Attorney-General Tarek Saab to open a preliminary investigation into Mr Guaido based on accusations he helped foreign countries interfere in internal matters.

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