U.S. lifts sanctions on Venezuelan general who broke with Maduro

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro posing with troops in a handout

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro posing with troops in a handout

Venezuela lurched into a political crisis in January when National Assembly speaker Guaido challenged Maduro's authority by declaring himself acting president.

Shanahan and Pence stressed the United States is seeking a peaceful transition of power in Venezuela, even after protests in support of Guaido last week sparked violence. While US officials have previously dangled what they called "off ramps" for those hit with sanctions who abandon Maduro, this is the first time the Trump administration has made good on its pledge.

Maduro - who has said Guaido is a puppet of Washington - has sought to show that the military remains on his side, but opposition leaders and USA officials have said that support is tenuous.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday the Trump administration chose to lift sanctions on Venezuela's former chief of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service, Manuel Cristopher Figuera who last week supported the opposition.

US officials have said recently they are considering military options in Venezuela, as the USA intensifies diplomatic and economic pressure on the oil-rich country. Last week, Guaido tried to provoke a military revolt to force Maduro from office, but the attempt failed because most of the armed forces remain loyal to Maduro.

The U.S. Secretary of State talked about military options as the turmoil in Venezuela intensifies. The U.S. already has sanctions on about 150 officials and businesses in the country.

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The Pentagon is also dispatching the USNS Comfort, a military hospital ship, to the region in June for five months to offer medical care to Venezuelan refugees and others, Pence confirmed.

An earlier statement by the court had named a seventh opposition figure.

"I think President [Donald] Trump's position is very firm, which we appreciate, as does the entire world", he said. "And if there are options we have to consider and alternatives, then we will", said Guaidó.

Of the 30 million people left behind, the United Nations says nearly a quarter are in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, said Tuesday that the USA won't have to send troops to Venezuela if Cuba ceases its support for the country's disputed president.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the coup bid, saying "those who attempt to appoint a postmodern colonial governor to Venezuela, where the people are sovereign and where the president comes through elections, should know only democratic elections determined the way to govern the country".

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