Venezuela's Maduro challenges US intervention attempts

DAILY SABAH WITH WIRES
Istanbul
Published 06.02.2019 00:06

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro vowed to resist the U.S.' demands to step down and Europe's call for elections, underscoring that he will not let history remember him as a traitor.

In an exclusive interview with RT Spanish, Maduro warned that the country would defend itself against any military intervention. "I do not care how I'm going to go down in history, I'm not going to be a traitor, a weak one, like a man who turned his back on his historic commitments to his people," he told the RT television channel. "I take advantage of every means of communication to ask the whole world to denounce and stop the madness of U.S. President Donald Trump. Venezuela is never going to give in," he said. He also stated that "a wave of conscience" globally will lead to a "repudiation" of President Trump.

Trump has earlier warned he could use military force in Venezuela if Maduro does not hand over power, after the U.S. recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's interim president.

Following the U.S.-led campaign against Venezuela's democratically elected President Maduro, at least nine European nations recognized Guaido as the interim leader until new elections are held after Maduro rejected a European ultimatum to call for fresh polls.

Maduro, last week, warned that leaders in Washington were motivated by the desire "to get their hands on" Venezuela's massive oil reserves, "as they did in Iraq and Libya." Venezuela has been rocked by protests since Jan. 10 when President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycott by the opposition.

Tensions climbed on Jan. 23 when Guaido declared himself interim president, but Maduro has so far refused calls to step down.

He has accused the U.S. of orchestrating a coup against his government and said he is open to dialogue with the opposition. The U.S. has led international efforts to apply economic and diplomatic pressure on Maduro, including sanctioning the country's state-owned oil company and a joint venture with its Nicaraguan counterpart.

Russia, China, Turkey, and Iran, for their part, have put their weight behind Maduro, the elected president.

In the face of mounting pressure on Maduro, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated support for his Venezuelan counterpart and the government. Erdoğan expressed his surprise and disappointment that Trump was backing an apparent coup attempt. He also accused the European Union yesterday of seeking to overthrow Maduro in defiance of "democracy."

"On one side you say ‘democracy, democracy, democracy' and ‘ballot box, ballot box, ballot box' and later you dare to try and topple a government by violence and ruse," Erdoğan said in a speech in Parliament, referring to the European Union.

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