Representatives of Russia's national oil company, were in Venezuela negotiating the replacement of the Citgo collateral for an existing credit to Venezuela's national oil company, The Financial Times reported.
Russia's Rosneft, according to the Friday report, is willing to provide another $5 billion in cash or credit if they get concessions to oil fields as collateral instead of the nearly 50 percent stake of Citgo assets in the U.S. The Venezuelan constitution as it stands requires legislative approval for such transactions.
Maduro wants Venezuelans to vote Sunday for a new legislative body, known as the National Constituent Assembly, that he will entrust with rewriting the constitution. It will be made up of socialist loyalists who will have power to supplant the National Assembly, which the democrats control.
President Donald Trump threatened Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro with "strong economic actions" if his administration continues with his effort to rewrite the constitution. American refining companies were concerned about a ban on Venezuelan crude.
This week Trump issued sanctions for 13 Maduro loyalists and the U.S. Senate approved a bill hitting Russia with new sanctions. Sen. Marco Rubio discussed sanctions against Venezuela during a press conference along with Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
"You can expect more" Rubio said.
President Barack Obama's administration issued sanctions against Rosneft July 2014 over the Ukraine crisis.
Maduro banned protests from Friday to Tuesday, but a few protesters defied the order. The ban worried human rights activists and had Venezuelans scrambling to stockpile on food and other necessities to prepare for clashes in the streets.
Wuilly Arteaga, a beloved violinist who plays during protests, and musician Goan Marco Cetorame were among the dozens arrested Thursday.
"They burned his hair," said Alfredo Romero Friday afternoon. The attorney from Foro Penal said riot police officers hit him in the head with his own violin.
Rep. Jamie Raskin released a statement Friday saying he was horrified and dismayed to learn of the arrest of Arteaga and Cetorame, who was released. Raskin met Arteaga during his visit to Washington earlier this year.
"The Venezuelan authorities should know America is watching the situation carefully," Raskin said.
This BBSNews article originally appeared on News | WPLG.