Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Friday he rejected his US counterpart Donald Trump’s warning to impose blockade on Caracas, stressing that Venezuela’s seas would remain “free and independent”.
In remarks cited by Reuters, Maduro said he had requested Venezuela’s Envoy to the UN to denounce Trump’s “illegal” blockade threat at the UN Security Council.
“Donald Trump says that he is considering imposing a quarantine against Venezuela meaning that no vessel enters or exits [Venezuela’s waters]. It is a blockade. I instructed Venezuela’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Samuel Moncada, to tell the UN Security Council about the illegal and criminal threat by Donald Trump to introduce a sea blockade and a quarantine against Venezuela”, Maduro said live on state TV late on Friday.
Maduro also argued that Trump voiced his threats because of Washington’s despair in the face of Venezuela’s dignity.
“I am telling Donald Trump that criminal imperialism will not cope with Venezuela. The waters of Venezuela will be free, sovereign and independent. We will sail there the way we chose to. Get ready for a fight if you want to introduce a quarantine against Venezuela”, the Venezuelan president pointed out.
Also on Friday, Venezuela’s Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez reported some progress in talks between the country’s government and opposition in Barbados.
On Friday, Norway, mediating the negotiations, said the parties engaged in the new round of talks to settle the ongoing political crisis.
“I believe that this latest round allows us to say that we are now reaching the points of possible consensus with the Venezuelan opposition”, Rodriguez said, as aired live by Venezuelan television late on Friday.
Also in his speech, Maduro expressed his gratitude to the opposition for its participation in the talks in Barbados.
“I have been asked why I sat down at the negotiating table with those who attempted to overthrow and kill me and who calls for a foreign invasion in the country. I am ready to even negotiate with the devil for peace, unity and independence of our country”, Maduro said.
Venezuela has long been experiencing a political and economic crisis that intensified in January when US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself to be the country’s interim president after disputing the re-election of incumbent President Maduro.
The United States and 54 other countries recognized Guaido, but Russia, China, Cuba, Bolivia, Turkey, and numerous other countries said they recognize constitutionally-elected Maduro as the only president of Venezuela.
Maduro said Guaido is a US puppet and accused the United States of orchestrating a coup to force a change of government in Venezuela and claim the country’s vast fossil fuel resources.