Venezuela’s defense minister says US waging ‘economic war’ as WH promises aid to Guaido

Venezuela’s defense minister says US waging ‘economic war’ as WH promises aid to Guaido
Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino accused the United States of waging “economic war” on his country and warned a coup was underway after the US recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president.

In a televised message on Thursday, Padrino insisted that elected president Nicolas Maduro was the only “legitimate” president. “I warn the people that there is a coup underway against our democracy and our president Nicolas Maduro,” he said.

Padrino recalled a failed coup attempt by the Bush administration in 2002, saying that “those of us who lived through the coup of 2002 have it etched into our minds, we never thought we'd see that again, but we saw it yesterday.”

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In a provocative move which analysts warned could lead to all-out civil war in Venezuela, Trump recognized President of the National Assembly Guaido as interim president after the the opposition politician declared himself the legitimate leader of the country.

The White House said on Thursday that it was ready to provide more than $20 million in humanitarian assistance to Venezuela, but Trump's national security adviser John Bolton said the money should go to the “legitimate” Guaido-led government, despite the fact that Guaido was not elected by the Venezuelan people and assumed the role of interim president in what his critics say was an unconstitutional act. Bolton said the Trump administration was focused on cutting Maduro off from all sources of revenue.

The US has piled pressure on Maduro for months, insisting that he step aside as administration officials openly called for regime change in the country. Trump has steadily expanded economic sanctions against the county, building on a policy also employed by former president Barack Obama to tighten the screws on Maduro, who has accused the US of using its power to worsen “instability and violence” in the country.

As soon as Washington announced its support for Guaido, other Western countries including Canada and Britain followed. Trump's move was also supported by Washington's allies in Latin America, including Brazil's new right wing president Jair Bolsonaro. Russia, China, Iran and NATO-member Turkey condemned US interference in Venezuela's domestic crisis, however, saying it could further complicate the situation.

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