Tensions flare as Trump spars with Venezuela leader Feb 17, 2017 0 260 12345 AFPWashingtonTensions flared once again Wednesday between the United States and Venezuela as Donald Trump called for the release of a jailed foe of President Nicolas Maduro, who warned the new US leader not to provoke him.Diplomatic rows have become somewhat commonplace over the past 20 years between Venezuela's leftist leaders and Washington, the 'imperialist' power they love to hate. They have not traded ambassadors since 2010.But with the Republican Trump only in office since January 20, any hope of some kind of breakthrough appeared to be quickly vanishing."Venezuela should allow Leopoldo Lopez, a political prisoner & husband of @liliantintori (just met w/ @marcorubio) out of prison immediately," Trump tweeted.The post included a picture of Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Lopez's wife Lilian Tintori and Florida Senator Marco Rubio at the White House. Trump's public schedule had only mentioned a dinner with Rubio.Lopez, the founder of Popular Will, one of the most hardline of the parties opposing Maduro, is serving a 14-year prison term on charges of inciting unrest at anti-government protests that left 43 people dead in early 2014.Ties had already been rattled on Monday, when the US Treasury imposed sanctions on Maduro's powerful Vice President Tareck El Aissami and a businessman, whom US authorities accuse of being involved in drug trafficking.The US Treasury department froze the US assets of El Aissami and the businessman, Samark Jose Lopez Bello, and banned US nationals from doing business with them.The Caracas government credits El Aissami with cracking down on drug trafficking while serving as interior minister. But the US Treasury says he oversaw shipments of cocaine from Venezuela to Mexico and the United States.Maduro demanded a public apology and a diplomatic complaint was lodged. Then on Wednesday, Venezuela pulled the plug on CNN's Spanish-language channel, accusing it of spreading 'propaganda.'Until Monday, Caracas had been somewhat cautious in its stance towards Trump's new administration. But that attitude has disappeared, and on Wednesday, Maduro stepped up the rhetoric.Shortly before Trump sent the tweet about Lopez, Maduro had warned the US leader that he would respond with a firm hand to any action by Washington he deemed to be aggressive, though he said he did not want any 'problems.'"If they attack us, we will not be silent. Venezuela will respond firmly. Those who tangle with us will get an appropriate response," Maduro said on state television. POST A COMMENT RELATED ARTICLES US-Russia military collaboration ruled out for now, says Mattis Feb 17, 2017 0 541 Businesses close, immigrants stay home to protest Trump Feb 17, 2017 1 245 Newspapers aim to ride 'Trump Bump'to reach readers, advertisers Feb 17, 2017 0 164 Trump to replace travel ban order 'in the near future' Reuters SAN FRANCISCO US PRESIDENT Donald Trump will replace his executive order suspending travel from seven Muslim-majority countries 'in the near future,' according to a Justice Department court filing .. Trump taps first Hispanic cabinet pick to labour post Washington President Donald Trump announced Thursday he has nominated Alexander Acosta to be labour secretary, the first Hispanic chosen for his cabinet. Acosta is the dean of the law school at Florida International .. Brazil police target former senator in bribery probe BRASILIA Brazilian police targeted the son of Senator Edison Lob'e3o, a former energy minister and a prominent politician in a search and seizure operations on Thursday, in an investigation of possible bribes paid .. Police bust cocaine trafficking ring in Colombia Rome Police said Thursday they have arrested 68 suspected members of an international drug trafficking ring made up of mobsters and businessmen that was about to smuggle eight tonnes of cocaine from Colombia to Italy. ..