United States says Maduro using banks as slush funds

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While Maduro retains support from Russia, Turkey, China and a few other allies, National Assembly leader Juan Guaido, now on a nationwide tour to rally support, has the backing of the US and around 50 other countries as Venezuela's legitimate president.

"We have dismantled a plan organized personally by the diabolical puppet to kill me", Maduro told thousands of supporters in Caracas, referring to Guaido, who is recognized as interim president by more than 50 countries.

And to help alleviate the suffering caused by Venezuela's failed state, the United States has provided almost $200 million in aid to support displaced Venezuelans, and staged more than 525 metric tons of food and humanitarian supplies in neighboring countries - aid that Maduro refuses to let in.

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

President Nicolas Maduro has refrained from having Guaido arrested, but analysts say Marrero's detention was a clear attempt to weaken his political foe.

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Marrero's arrest has also triggered worldwide condemnation, with the United States (US), the European Union and Latin American nations all demanding his immediate release.

The United States imposed sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil company PDVSA in January, preventing US companies from dealing with it unless revenues went to a fund available to Guaido, but has not yet slapped sanctions on companies from other countries that do business with PDVSA, a practice known as "secondary sanctions".

Rodriguez alleged funds in accounts in Bank of America and Banesco Panama were being used in the plot.

When President Guaido asked him what he wanted to say, Daniel spoke for millions of Venezuelans when he shouted into the microphone, "We, the kids, want a future!" The U.S. has sanctioned scores of top Venezuelan officials and has blocked U.S. banks from doing business with Venezuela, putting a financial strangle-hold on the cash-strapped country.

On April 28, the sanctions will jump up another level with an embargo on crude exports.

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Guaido said his team has also been in touch with companies whose Venezuelan assets were expropriated by the late former President Hugo Chavez, Maduro's mentor and predecessor, about returning to the country should Maduro leave power.

Trump has reiterated that "all options" - implicitly including military action - are on the table for dealing with Venezuela. Sanctions imposed so far have targeted state-run industries such as oil and gold mining, although President Donald Trump warned earlier this week that they could get a "lot tougher" in the weeks to come.

The charges - which opposition leaders rejected as a ploy to attack and intimidate their movement - were announced by Maduro's Interior Minister, Nestor Reverol. Guaido said guns had been planted by intelligence agents.

The arrest drew a swift response from opposition leaders and USA officials. Maduro was supported by Russia, Bolivia, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Turkey.

The U.S. continues to hold strong against Maduro's regime, and voice its support for Guaido.

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