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Venezuela’s Juan Guaido defends sanctions against Maduro regime

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Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido on Wednesday defended foreign sanctions against his country 24 hours after he was attacked at the Caracas international airport by state airline employees shouting “fascist”.

Guaido returned on Tuesday from a three-week international tour that took him to the US, Canada, Colombia and Europe. He was met by some angry Conviasa workers enraged that last Friday the US placed sanctions on the state airline company.

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The US action criminalizing transactions with the flag carrier is the latest of many sanctions by Washington aimed at toppling leftist President Nicolas Maduro’s regime, particularly by cutting his government’s oil revenue.

One protester even appeared to douse Guaido with a fizzy drink.

But speaking to journalists after a legislative session held in a Caracas plaza, the National Assembly speaker defended the use of sanctions.

He said they are “the free world’s tools to confront regimes (that) violate human rights, torturers and murderers.”

He said the sanctions imposed on the top officials in Maduro’s government were an “effective” form of pressure.

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However, Maduro retains the support of Venezuela’s powerful military and has resisted Guaido’s challenge, even as the United States ramps up the pressure.

“Yes, there will be more sanctions for the criminals and everyone that supports the dictatorship,” warned Guaido, who on Tuesday had told supporters to “look out for new announcements.”

For the second time in less than a year, Guaido flouted a travel ban imposed by Maduro’s regime to meet with allies around the world, including US President Donald Trump.

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Guaido sprung to prominence in January 2019 when he declared himself the country’s acting president in a direct challenge to Maduro.

He derived such authority from his position as the speaker of the National Assembly, after the legislature declared Maduro’s 2018 re-election invalid following a poll widely denounced as rigged.

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Lawmakers called Maduro a “usurper” while more than 50 countries recognized Guaido as interim president. He retained his Assembly post last month despite a standoff in which troops stopped him from entering the legislature.

Although it sits on the world’s largest proven oil reserves, Venezuela’s economy has collapsed under Maduro’s leadership and the country has suffered five years of recession.

The UN says more than 4.5 million people have left the country due to its crisis while inflation is the highest in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund.

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Maduro told supporters celebrating World Youth Day that “traitors go abroad to ask for sanctions against the people.”

Diosdado Cabello, considered the second-most powerful person in the country, said the sanctions had affected Venezuela’s ability to buy food and medicine.

Last year, Guaido tried to force in humanitarian aid from Colombia, Brazil and Curacao but under Maduro’s orders the military blocked entry points to keep it out.

Students rallied in Caracas on Wednesday in support of Guaido, who repeated his claim from Tuesday that his uncle had disappeared since returning with him to the Caracas international airport on the same flight he took from Portugal.

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There’s no respite from Trump’s vindictiveness and foolishness

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As we know, even in the midst of a national emergency, Donald Trump could find time and bandwidth to continue his retribution campaign.

He dismissed Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence agencies, for doing “a terrible job,” satisfying his own thirst for vengeance for anyone who actually adhered to law and practice over blind loyalty to Trump himself. Indeed, asked about it the next day, Trump underscored his action by saying, Atkinson “was no Trump supporter, that I can tell you.”

It was an act that we once would have labeled corruption, by Democrats and Republicans – that is using the office for personal purposes – if Congress and too many Americans had not since become inured by so many like instances.

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This is how Taiwan and South Korea bucked the global lockdown trend

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As the coronavirus pandemic sparks global lockdowns, life has continued comparatively unhindered in places like Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong after their governments and citizens took decisive early action against the unfolding crisis.

At first glance Taiwan looks like an ideal candidate for the coronavirus. The island of 23 million lies just 180 kilometres (110 miles) off mainland China.

Yet nearly 100 days in, Taiwan has just 376 confirmed cases and five fatalities while restaurants, bars, schools, universities and offices remain open.

The government of President Tsai Ing-wen, whose deputy is an epidemiologist, made tough decisions while the crisis was nascent to stave off the kind of pain now convulsing much of the rest of the world.

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Republican ex-lawmaker with coronavirus scolds Wisconsin GOP for forcing voters to risk their health

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On CNN Tuesday, former Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), who is himself dealing with a bout of COVID-19, chastised the Wisconsin GOP for doing everything in their power to block the state elections from being moved — and forcing many voters to stand in line and risk exposure to the virus to cast their ballot.

"I have to tell you, here in Pennsylvania we have a Democratic governor and Republican legislature," Dent told host Don Lemon. "They postponed the election here from April 28 until June 2. Without any controversy. Everybody agreed it was the right thing to do and they moved on. I'm surprised Wisconsin took this risk, knowing they don't have to."

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