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