Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice barred self-declared president Juan Guaido from leaving the country and froze his bank accounts on Tuesday, as leader Nicolas Maduro seeks to neutralise the American-backed opposition chief.
The 35-year-old head of the National Assembly legislature “is prohibited from leaving the country until the end of the (preliminary) investigation” for having “caused harm to peace in the republic,” high court president Maikel Moreno said.
The court is stacked with Maduro loyalists.
The move came after the State Department revealed that Guaido — the National Assembly head and self-proclaimed interim president — has been handed control of Venezuela’s US bank accounts.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed off on the order last week, which was then followed on Monday by US sanctions targeting Venezuela’s state oil giant PDVSA, the cash-strapped government’s main source of hard currency.
“This certification will help Venezuela’s legitimate government safeguard those assets for the benefit of the Venezuelan people,” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement.
Guaido shrugged off Maduro’s efforts to choke his progress as “nothing new.”
“I’m not dismissing the threats, the persecution at this time, but we’re here, we’re continuing to do our jobs,” he told reporters as he arrived at the National Assembly.
Guaido, who has been recognized as interim president by US President Donald Trump, sent a message to the country’s top court on Twitter warning that “the regime is in its final stage.”
“You shouldn’t sacrifice yourselves for the usurper and his gang,” he added.