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VENEZUELAN President Nicolas Maduro accused Washington of trying to turn his inauguration ceremony into a war as world leaders gathered in Caracas to see the Bolivarian leader sworn in.
He pledged that his government would “promote the changes that are needed in Venezuela, to defend the right to peace and respect for the constitution.”
But he warned of continued attempts to undermine democracy and the Venezuelan people with threats of military intervention, coups and an failed assassination attempt last year.
Striking a defiant tone, he told the those gathered, including Cuban leader Miguel Diaz-Canel: “Our Bolivarian constitution is an expression of peace and of the people.”
He took a swipe at the political right in Latin America, branding new Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro a “fascist.”
It comes after the Lima Group of countries called for Mr Maduro to stand down last week and threatened a raft of measures designed to force him from office.
The Venezuelan embassy in Peru was attacked just hours after Mr Maduro was sworn in, with Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza warning of several assaults by bandits and other groups.
Mr Maduro was re-elected president, winning a landslide 67.7 per cent of the vote, in last year’s election. His closest rival, the right-wing candidate Henri Falcon trailed far behind with just 21 per cent.
Since then, a string of measures have been taken in an attempt to derail the Bolivarian Revolution, including punitive economic sanctions by the US and European Union which want to see Mr Maduro step aside for a more compliant leader.
Bosses inside Venezuela have sought to exacerbate the country’s economic crisis by instigating a series of lockouts and withholding food and medical supplies.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ramped up the rhetoric, branding Mr Maduro’s election an “illegitimate usurpation of power” following elections he said were unfree and unfair.
“The United States remains steadfast in its support of the Venezuelan people and will continue to use the full weight of US economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy,” he threatened.
However millions have turned out to support Mr Maduro, who retains popular support in Venezuela in the face of the sustained attacks and a propaganda war waged through the bourgeois global media.
“Venezuela is at the centre of a global war waged by US imperialism and their satellite states,” Mr Maduro told the crowds.
“Here I am, ready to take our country forward. Here we are with our democracy and our people.”
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