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Venezuelan military exercises as US invasion threat looms

VENEZUELAN President Nicolas Maduro warned his US counterpart  Donald Trump to “back off” today as he launched military exercises to mark the 200th anniversary of the Angostura Congress convened by liberation hero Simon Bolivar.

Mr Maduro presided over a military parade in the central state of Miranda to celebrate the bicentenary of the establishment of Gran Colombia, which saw independence from Spanish rule.

He was joined by Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez and Commander Remigio Ceballos as they reviewed the country’s anti-aerial defence system and the Bolivarian National Militia.

Exercises are due to take place all week until February 15 to test the operational capacity of the Venezuelan armed forces with the threat of a US-led military invasion looming.

“The exercises for the 200-year anniversary of Angostura have started, the speech of Simon Bolivar where he established the doctrine for the independence, for the Republic, for the future,” Mr Maduro said.

On Saturday unelected president of the defunct National Assembly Juan Guaido, who illegally declared himself interim president of Venezuela last month, said he was prepared to authorise operations by external forces in his bid to oust Mr Maduro.

But, despite the claims of Washington-backed defectors, Mr Maduro retains the support of Venezuela’s armed forces, while hundreds of thousands of citizens are believed to have signed a declaration rejecting US intervention.

“Here there are the armed forces and here are the people ready to defend the honour, the dignity and the decorum of a homeland that has been fighting for its future over 200 years.

“Back off, Donald Trump and his threats!” the Bolivarian leader said.

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