Venezuela fights back at Trump as its citizens starve
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