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article imageVenezuela accuses US of 'inciting violence'

By AFP     Jan 16, 2019 in World

Venezuela's government hit out at the United States on Wednesday, accusing the Donald Trump administration of fomenting violence in the South American country by backing the opposition-controlled parliament's bid to disavow President Nicolas Maduro.

"Venezuela demands respect for its democracy," Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza tweeted, denouncing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and "other extremist voices looking to destabilize the country and incite violence."

The US has been one of the biggest critics of the Maduro regime in Venezuela and described the president as illegitimate last week when he was sworn in for a highly-controversial second term in office.

Maduro won snap elections in May that were boycotted by the opposition and branded a fraud by the US, among others.

Last week, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his country would "use diplomatic and economic tools to support the Venezuelan people's efforts to restore their democracy."

But it was Pompeo's support for Venezuela's National Assembly, which has formally declared Maduro a "usurper of democracy," that most irked Arreaza.

"It's a shame that... Pompeo cannot receive a credible and rigorous report that would allow him to understand the content of our sacred Venezuelan constitution," said Arreaza.

Maduro was sworn in on Thursday in front of the Supreme Court, made up mostly of regime loyalists, rather than the opposition-controlled legislature, as the constitution dictates.

"Not satisfied with leading a criminal economic blockade and an international operation of aggression against Venezuela, Pompeo is now blatantly promoting a coup d'etat, citing articles from a constitution he clearly doesn't know," added Arreaza.

Pompeo has voiced his support for National Assembly president Juan Guaido's claim that the constitution allows him to assume power and set up a transitional government ahead of snap elections.

Guaido spoke with Mike Pence on Tuesday, with the US vice president offering "continuous support" to the legislature.

While increasingly isolated on the international stage, Maduro does enjoy the support of Venezuela's military high command.

But on Tuesday, Guaido promised an amnesty to any members of the military that disavow Maduro.

He's called a mass protest against the socialist ruler for next Wednesday.

Maduro is widely blamed for Venezuela's economic meltdown that sees the oil-reliant country wallowing in a fourth year of recession as crude production is at a 30-year low, while poverty is widespread and millions have fled the country.

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