WASHINGTON/CARACAS (Reuters) – American missionary Josh Holt, held by Venezuela without trial on weapons charges since 2016, returned home with his wife on Saturday after the South American country’s socialist government unexpectedly released them.
Venezuela expelled the top U.S. diplomatic officials in the country on Tuesday after the Trump administration increased sanctions on the South American nation.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) ripped former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for undermining the White House on sanctioning Venezuela, while praising his replacement, Mike Pompeo, for harsh new measures against the Venezuelan regime and its interests.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) warned U.S. lawmakers and other officials against trying to open a backchannel with Venezuelan President Maduro as the Trump administration and regional allies work to ratchet up sanctions and form a united front against his regime.
The Trump administration is ratcheting up pressure on Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro to force him to address the country’s deepening humanitarian crisis, release political prisoners unconditionally, and overhaul its election process ahead of a May presidential ballot.
President Donald Trump tightened U.S. sanctions against the Venezuelan government on Monday by prohibiting any U.S. financial transactions involving Venezuela’s new digital cryptocurrency, the Petro.