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Actions against Guaido would be 'foolish', U.S. envoy warns Maduro
By REUTERS
01/31/2019
WASHINGTON - The U.S. envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, cautioned socialist President Nicolas Maduro that acting against self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido would be an "extremely foolish move."

Speaking on Wednesday, days after being named the U.S. point person for Venezuela by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Abrams said the United States would keep up pressure on Maduro to step down by applying further sanctions and searching for assets such as bank accounts and gold holdings.

"The security of interim president Guaido is a concern," Abrams told a group of reporters.

"The regime has not acted against him in some time and I hope that is because they recognize that he has the support of the vast majority of Venezuelans, and that would be an extremely foolish move for the regime to make."

Washington has backed Guaido in his push to force Maduro from power. Maduro, who is supported by Russia and China, has barred Guaido from leaving Venezuela and frozen his assets. Many opposition leaders have been imprisoned in Venezuela in recent years.

Abrams emphasized that unseating Maduro, who still has the backing of the military, could take time.

Asked whether Washington may have underestimated the military's support for Maduro, Abrams said: "This may well be, and the democratic forces believe it can be, a turning point. That doesn't mean its going to happen this week and we're not picking dates."
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