The Latest: Rubio says US to sanction Venezuela's oil co

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Latest on the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

Sen. Marco Rubio says the U.S. will hit Venezuela’s state-owned oil company with sanctions aimed at increasing pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to step down from office.

The Florida Republican and two people briefed on the administration’s plans say Treasury will impose penalties as early as Monday on the company known by its acronym PDVSA. The sanctions will include a freeze on any assets the firm may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with it. The two people briefed on the sanctions were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Rubio praised the Trump administration for taking the action, which follows its earlier decision to recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president.

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3:30 p.m.

Canada plans to host an emergency meeting of the 14-nation Lima Group next week to discuss options for the crisis in Venezuela.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday the meeting will be in Ottawa on Feb. 4.

The regional group was created in Lima, Peru, in 2017 to try to hope resolve the crisis in Venezuela and nearly all of the nations now have thrown their support behind opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela, deciding that last year’s re-election of President Nicolas Maduro was invalid. Canada has been a key presence the effort to have Guaido recognized as president pending new elections.

Freeland says Venezuela has been a top foreign policy priority for Canada.


2:50 p.m.

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A Venezuelan diplomat in Miami says she’s abandoned embattled President Nicolas Maduro, throwing her support behind opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Consular officer Scarlet Salazar issued a videotaped statement Monday saying she’s living up to her constitutional duty as a career diplomat.

Opposition lawmaker Guaido last week declared that he had assumed presidential powers and will hold fresh elections to restore democracy. The U.S. and several other countries have recognized him as interim president, though Maduro is recognized by most nations, as well as the country’s military leadership.

Miami, a stronghold of Venezuelans living in exile.

Salazar says she’s staying and will continue to perform her consular duties at the Miami office.

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