Venezuelan President President Nicolas Maduro is challenging Barack Obama over the characterization of his country as a threat to the United States.
“We demand, via all global diplomatic channels, that President Obama rectify and repeal the immoral decree declaring Venezuela a threat to the United States,” Maduro said.
It’s the worst flare-up between the ideological enemies since Maduro took power in 2013, Reuters reported Friday.
Earlier this week, Washington declared a “national emergency” over “the unusual and extraordinary threat” from Venezuela and sanctioned seven officials over allegations of rights abuses and corruption.
The Maduro government is demanding evidence of how Venezuela threatens US security and is accusing Washington of helping coup plotters and preparing a military invention.
US officials said the Obama government’s intention is to make Venezuela’s government change its ways, not fall.
Maduro, the 52-year-old successor of firebrand US adversary Hugo Chavez, said Venezuela is preparing an event in Washington to press its case.
“Maybe I’ll appear in Washington at that exhibition to show my face for my country and tell the government in Washington they are committing grave mistakes,” he said.
Also, Venezuela demanded Washington cut its Caracas embassy from 100 to 17 staff.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles accused Maduro of using the spat as a smokescreen.
“Inflation through the roof. Scarcities too. Murders and poverty up. And the shameless rulers talking to us of an invasion,” he tweeted.
Venezuela’s opposition coalition has sought to dissociate itself from any perception of supporting outside meddling, while supporting allegations of repression and graft.
Allies from Russia to Argentina have sent messages of support to Venezuela, as has the South American regional bloc UNASUR, while critics of US foreign policy have protested.
“Venezuela is one of the very few countries with significant oil reserves which does not submit to US dictates,” wrote Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who first published documents leaked by fugitive former US spy contractor Edward Snowden.
“Such countries are always at the top of the US government and media list of “countries to be demonized’,” he said.
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