‘Dictator’ Maduro’s second term greeted by isolation
CARACAS: Nicolas Maduro celebrated the start to a second term as Venezuela’s president yesterday, but his world got smaller as countries seized upon the inauguration to cut back diplomatic ties, reject his legitimacy and label him a dictator.
Seventeen Latin American countries, the US and Canada denounced Mr Maduro’s socialist government as illegitimate.
Mr Maduro rejected the accusation, vowing to continue the legacy of the late president Hugo Chavez and accused the US of trying to ignite unrest through its increasing economic sanctions.
“Venezuela is the centre of a world war led by the North American imperialists and its allies,” he said after his swearing-in. “They have tried to convert a normal inauguration into a world war.”
Mr Maduro, a 56-year-old former bus driver, took the helm after narrowly winning election following Chavez’s 2013 death.
He denies being a dictator and accuses Donald Trump of leading an economic war against Venezuela that is destroying the country.
In May, Mr Maduro declared victory following an election that his political opponents and many foreign nations consider illegitimate because popular opponents were banned from running and the largest anti-government parties boycotted the race.
Yesterday, the Organisation of American States voted not to recognise the legitimacy of Mr Maduro’s second term, adopting a resolution presented by Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, the US, Paraguay and Peru.
Venezuela’s ambassador to the OAS, Samuel Moncada, denounced the move as “a hostile act ... against the will of our nation”.
Paraguay went a step further, severing diplomatic ties. Peru also called home its top diplomat from Caracas in protest and banned 100 members of the Maduro administration from entering the country. Argentina suspended Venezuelan diplomatic and official passports for Maduro officials.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would keep up pressure in support of the Venezuelan people. “Now is the time to convince the Maduro dictatorship that the moment has arrived for democracy to return to Venezuela,” he said.
Argentine President Mauricio Macri also denounced Mr Maduro, saying he lacks the authenticity won through honest elections despite the inauguration ceremony.
“Nicolas Maduro today is making a mockery of democracy,” Mr Macri tweeted.
“Venezuelans know it, the world knows it. Venezuela lives under a dictatorship.”
Most countries from Europe and Latin America didn’t send representatives to the swearingin. Presidents Miguel Diaz-Canel of Cuba, Evo Morales of Bolivia and Anatoli Bibilov of a breakaway province of Georgia were among the few foreign leaders who attended the ceremony at the country’s Supreme Court.
The national guard performs at Nicolas Maduro’s inauguration in Caracas yesterday