Iso­la­tion greets Maduro’s new term as Venezuela’s pres­i­dent

The Day - - WORLD & NATION -

Cara­cas, Venezuela (AP) — Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro cel­e­brated the start to a sec­ond term as Venezuela’s leader Thursday, but his world got smaller as coun­tries seized upon the in­au­gu­ra­tion to cut back di­plo­matic ties, re­ject his le­git­i­macy and la­bel him a dic­ta­tor.

Once among Latin Amer­ica’s wealth­i­est coun­tries, Venezuela is en­dur­ing a his­toric cri­sis fol­low­ing two decades of so­cial­ist rule, with res­i­dents strug­gling to af­ford ba­sic goods as in­fla­tion soars, driv­ing mass mi­gra­tion.

Maduro’s sec­ond six-year term ex­tends the coun­try’s so­cial­ist revo­lu­tion amid wide­spread com­plaints that he has stripped the coun­try of its last ves­tiges of democ­racy.

Seven­teen Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries, the United States and Canada de­nounced Maduro’s govern­ment as il­le­git­i­mate in a mea­sure adopted Thursday.

Maduro re­jected the ac­cu­sa­tion, vow­ing to con­tinue the legacy of the late Pres­i­dent Hugo Chavez and ac­cused the United States of try­ing to ig­nite un­rest through its in­creas­ing eco­nomic sanc­tions.

“Venezuela is the cen­ter of a world war led by the North Amer­i­can im­pe­ri­al­ists and its al­lies,” he de­clared in a speech af­ter his swear­ing-in. “They have tried to con­vert a nor­mal in­au­gu­ra­tion into a world war.”

Maduro, a 56-year-old for­mer bus driver and Chavez’s hand-picked suc­ces­sor, took the helm of govern­ment af­ter nar­rowly winning elec­tion fol­low­ing Chavez’s 2013 death. He de­nies be­ing a dic­ta­tor and of­ten ac­cuses Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump of lead­ing an eco­nomic war against Venezuela that is destroying the coun­try.

In May, 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.

On Thursday, the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States voted not to rec­og­nize the le­git­i­macy of Maduro’s sec­ond term, adopt­ing a res­o­lu­tion pre­sented by Colom­bia, Ar­gentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, the United States, Paraguay and Peru.

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