Puebla, Mexico, March 3, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela hit back Thursday at US lawmakers who have endorsed calls for regime change.
Venezuela’s foreign ministry condemned the US lawmakers, accusing them of making “imperialist threats” against the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
“The [Venezuelan] people reject imperial interference and threats against the homeland of [Venezuelan 19th Century liberator Simon] Bolivar,” the ministry stated.
A day earlier, lawmakers from Venezuela’s ruling socialist party also issued a statement calling for the US to cease “actions against Venezuela”.
“We demand that the United States Senate immediately ceases its actions against Venezuela and urge it to concentrate on addressing and resolving the serious internal crises in its own country,” the lawmakers said.
Maduro himself has also expressed outrage, warning of “fascism” in Washington.
“In spite of US aggressions, our people are united in saying ‘you must respect Venezuela’,” he said during a government summit in Cumana, according to state broadcaster teleSUR.
“We will never be anyone’s colony ever again,” he added.
The flurry of anger from Venezuela came in response to a US bill calling for a tougher line on Venezuela. The bill also expressed support for a controversial move by Organisation of American States (OAS) head Luis Almagro to invoke the Democratic Charter. If invoked, Venezuela would be suspended from the OAS. When Almagro first announced the move in 2016, he also demanded President Nicolas Maduro be “immediately” removed from office, prompting many Latin American leaders to accuse the OAS head of overreach.
The resolution sailed through the Senate with unanimous, bipartisan support, and will now head to the House of Representatives.
Since the bill passed the Senate, one of its key supporters, hardline anti-Venezuela Senator Marco Rubio, said momentum is gaining against Maduro.
During Thursday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Rubio called for the US to pull out of Vatican mediated talks between the Maduro administration and opposition parties. In a statement released shortly after the meeting, Rubio’s office said the senator had garnered broad support among foreign policy experts called to speak before the Senate.
“Rubio found unanimous agreement among the witnesses – Dr. David Smilde of Tulane University, Dr. Shannon O’Neil of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Mark Feierstein of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies – that the Trump administration’s top priority in Venezuela should be to push for the Organisation of American States (OAS) to invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter,” the statement read.
It continued, “This would isolate the Venezuelan regime diplomatically and raise the spectre of additional economic sanctions.”
Venezuela is already facing a range of US sanctions enforced by the Obama administration. However, since President Donald Trump took office, Maduro has taken a non-confrontational tone with Washington.
In January, Maduro said Trump “won’t be worse than Obama”, and has since repeatedly called for a renewal of US/Venezuela ties. Relations between the two countries flat-lined after the Bush administration endorsed a violent coup that temporarily ousted Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez in 2002. However, since Trump’s surprise election win in 2016, Maduro has hinted a sea change might be possible. However, Maduro took a very different tone during his speech on Wednesday, when he compared Trump to Adolf Hitler.
“I warn the whole world about the emergence of this dangerous segregationist, racist and xenophobic political current that threatens to attack the peoples of the world, to divide humanity more, and to create more wars around the world,” Maduro said, according to teleSUR.
“It’s a band of extremists who are taking over power in the most important countries of the so-called developed world … which, like Hitler, creates the supremacy of the white European race over the rest of the peoples of the world. It’s worrying,” he added.