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HUNDREDS of thousands of Venezuelans rallied in Caracas at the weekend as part of a “world protest day” denouncing the economic war waged on the country by the US.
Demonstrators carried placards reading “No more Trump” and “Hands off Venezuela” while solidarity protests took place in dozens of countries including the US, France, Germany, Italy, Argentina and South Korea.
President Nicolas Maduro saluted the huge crowds as “warriors of the fatherland” who were “prepared to overcome the blockade of the gringo empire.”
He denounced would-be usurper Juan Guaido, the unelected president of the National Assembly, who declared himself president of Venezuela in January. He gained recognition from the US, the EU and a number of right-wing Latin American governments but failed to make headway in seizing power despite attempting a coup in April.
President Maduro slammed Mr Guaido for “requesting and supporting all this economic aggression against our finances, commerce, food and medicines.”
A report published by the Washington-based Centre for Economic and Political Research in April found a 31 per cent increase in mortality in Venezuela from 2017 to 2018, equivalent to around 40,000 excess deaths, because of “sanctions [that] are depriving Venezuelans of lifesaving medicines, medical equipment, food, and other essential imports.”
Sanctions have lost the country billions of dollars in oil revenues while sovereign assets abroad have been seized or frozen as part of the US-led bid to topple Venezuela’s socialist government.
But Mr Maduro said “however crude and criminal the measures of the imperialist, racist government of Donald Trump may be, Venezuela has a way forward and the roads of prosperity, work and production will open.”
He said opposition representatives at talks facilitated by the Norwegian government had promised to request the Trump administration lift all sanctions, but had subsequently reneged on the pledge. Mr Trump’s government slapped still harsher sanctions on Venezuela on August 5.
Mr Maduro said that was why Venezuela withdrew from the talks last week: “We are prepared to talk and reach agreements, but when there is respect for Venezuela. If there is no respect, there will be struggle.”
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