The Latest: Pence says US to lift bans on Venezuelan general
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the United States and Venezuela (all times local):
Vice President Mike Pence says the U.S. is lifting sanctions on a former Venezuelan intelligence official who broke with the government of President Nicolas Maduro during a failed uprising last week.
Pence said the action to lift sanctions on Gen. Manuel Figuera is meant as a signal to others who might abandon the embattled Maduro.
Figuera was head of the SEBIN intelligence agency. He was among about 150 officials and businesses sanctioned as part of a U.S. effort to force Maduro to step down.
Pence said in a speech on Tuesday that the U.S. was also considering sanctions on members of the Venezuelan Supreme Court.
The U.S. and more than 50 other countries view Maduro’s reelection as illegitimate and have recognized National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó as interim president.
The Pentagon says a U.S. Navy hospital ship is preparing to deploy to Latin America to provide medical services in countries where several million Venezuelans have taken refuge.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Tuesday that before the USNS Comfort can be deployed from its homeport of Norfolk, Virginia, a staff of doctors, nurses and other medical staff have to be assembled. Another defense official said the plan is to send the ship from Norfolk in June.
The Comfort’s last tour provided medical assistance in Colombia and other countries where most of an estimated 3 million Venezuelan refugees have settled to escape a deep political and economic crisis. U.S. officials have warned that many more Venezuelans are expected to flee their country if the crisis continues.