Venezuela fights back at Trump as its cit­i­zens starve

The Queensland Times - - NEWS WORLD - Natalie Wolfe News Corp

VENEZUELA has one of the high­est crime rates in the world and is in the mid­dle of a bloody and vi­o­lent civil war, but Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro in­sists the South Amer­i­can na­tion has big­ger fish to fry.

Ear­lier this week, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump an­nounced he was ex­pand­ing his con­tro­ver­sial travel ban to in­clude three new coun­tries – North Korea, Chad and Venezuela.

The or­der, due to come into ef­fect on Oc­to­ber 18, will im­pose more tai­lored re­stric­tions on Venezuela – specif­i­cally ban­ning cer­tain gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and their fam­i­lies from en­ter­ing the US.

In re­sponse to Mr Trump’s an­nounce­ment, Pres­i­dent Maduro has fired back, call­ing his crip­pled na­tion to arms.

On Tues­day, while watch­ing tank and mis­sile ex­er­cises in the north­ern Venezue­lan city of Mara­cay, Mr Maduro called on his top mil­i­tary lead­ers to ready their weapons.

“We have been shame­lessly threat­ened by the most crim­i­nal em­pire that ever ex­isted and we have the obli­ga­tion to pre­pare our­selves to guar­an­tee peace,” Mr Maduro said, ac­cord­ing to News Week.

“We need to have ri­fles, mis­siles and well-oiled tanks at the ready ... to de­fend ev­ery inch of the ter­ri­tory if need be,” he added.

In an in­ter­view with news.com.au, As­so­ci­ate Pro­fes­sor of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics at the Univer­sity of Mel­bourne Tim Lynch said the in­clu­sion of North Korea and Venezuela in the travel ban was largely sym­bolic.

“Re­ally, this is about play­ing to the pop­ulist card, and por­tray­ing them as Cuban com­rades in arms,” he said.

The White House said Venezuela was on the list be­cause its gov­ern­ment was “unco-op­er­a­tive” re­gard­ing whether its cit­i­zens posed a public safety threat – and that it failed “to share public safety and ter­ror­ism-re­lated in­for­ma­tion ad­e­quately”.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has come down hard on the Maduro regime, ban­ning lend­ing to the Venezue­lan gov­ern­ment or its state oil com­pany PDVSA, and pass­ing sanc­tions against Mr Maduro and his top of­fi­cials.

Mr Maduro slammed the sanc­tions in his Mara­cay speech, say­ing: “The fu­ture of hu­man­ity can­not be the world of il­le­gal sanc­tions, of eco­nomic per­se­cu­tion.”

Air­craft from Rus­sia, a na­tion that has be­come in­creas­ingly sup­port­ive of Mr Maduro gov­ern­ing Venezuela, flew over­head.

Dur­ing his speech at the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly on Septem­ber 20, Mr Trump said the Maduro regime had “de­stroyed” the once-pros­per­ous na­tion.

As Pres­i­dent Maduro tells his peo­ple to cast their anger north to the US, his own na­tion strug­gles with triple fig­ure in­fla­tion, a chronic short­age of food and ba­sic goods, and ur­ban vi­o­lence.

The South Amer­i­can na­tion of nearly 32 mil­lion peo­ple was once richer than Saudi Ara­bia but is now on the verge of col­lapse.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple have been killed since protests in­ten­si­fied in April af­ter the Maduro ad­min­is­tra­tion and the courts stepped up ef­forts to un­der­mine op­po­si­tion.

❝ We need to have ri­fles, mis­siles and well-oiled tanks at the ready.

— Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro

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