Venezuela

Álvaro Callama is struggling to survive an economic double whammy.

A Venezuelan electrician, he fled his homeland two years ago amid a devastating economic crisis that left him too poor to buy food. He moved to neighboring Colombia, where Callama — nothing if not resourceful — worked three jobs: picking fruit, laying bricks and guiding tourists on horseback rides.

Updated at 12:18 p.m. ET

The Justice Department unsealed criminal charges against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and other regime heavies on Thursday in connection with alleged narcoterrorism and drug smuggling into the United States.

Attorney General William Barr announced the charges at the Justice Department in Washington with some officials in attendance and others connected via teleconference — precautions taken because of the coronavirus pandemic.

For a moment, Jesus thought his ordeal was coming to an end. Three months after fleeing Venezuela, he got his chance to tell a judge how he and his mother escaped political persecution.

"The judge asked me three questions," Jesus said in Spanish through an interpreter. "What's your nationality? Why did you leave your country? Why can't you go back?"

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

Venezuela is starting the year with a dramatic new twist to its political crisis.

On Sunday, allies of President Nicolás Maduro hijacked a session of the country's National Assembly while security forces locked out the body's president, Juan Guaidó, and his supporters. Meanwhile, inside the chamber, lawmakers allied to Maduro's government quickly selected a new head of the chamber.

Amid the chaos and misery that have engulfed Venezuela lies a strange parcel of tranquility, tucked within a valley surrounded by poplar trees and mountains some 20 miles south of the Caribbean coast.

It is a field populated by dozens of lanky teenage boys who are spending this particular evening — as they often do — galloping around the grass in pursuit of an oval ball.

These impoverished Venezuelans are training in the skills of a sport not often seen in a South American nation that's mad about soccer, baseball and horse racing: They are playing rugby.

The White House is on the verge of taking steps to protect thousands of Venezuelans living in the United States from deportation, even as it finds new ways to restrict the ability of asylum-seekers from other countries to claim refuge in the U.S.

Jesús Parra spent four years as a police officer in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas. He patrolled the streets, provided security at events and even guarded political prisoners. Now, he parks cars at a funeral home for spare change in the Colombian city of Cúcuta.

This is not what Parra, 27, had in mind when he deserted the police force and sneaked across the Colombian border in March.

It sounded like such a good idea at the time.

The year was 2005. Global oil prices were climbing dramatically. Countries in the Caribbean were facing major fuel shortages. Venezuela, one of the world's largest producers of crude, offered to ease the staggering fuel costs faced by its neighbors.

Auri Chirinos keeps close watch over her 2-year-old twin daughters as she walks with them through La Vela de Coro, a fishing town on Venezuela's Caribbean coast. She's extremely protective of the toddlers — and for good reason.

She recently lost her eldest daughter, who drowned while trying to reach the island of Curaçao.

President Trump has resumed talks with Major League Baseball owners after his administration blocked a historic agreement that would have allowed Cuban baseball players to join MLB teams without having to defect.

But the White House made clear that in exchange for revisiting any decision, it wants MLB, like other groups with ties to the island, to urge Cuba to reduce its long-standing cooperation with Venezuela's socialist government.

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