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Posts tagged ‘Nicolás Maduro’

US Defends Diplomats Expelled From Venezuela.


CARACAS,  Venezuela — The U.S. Embassy in Venezuela on Tuesday defended three diplomats expelled by President Nicolas Maduro, rejecting charges they were involved in espionage and accusations Washington is trying to destabilize the OPEC nation.

In the latest spat between the ideological foes, Maduro on Monday ordered out three U.S. diplomats including Kelly Keiderling, temporarily in charge of the mission.

He alleged they had been meeting with “right wing” opposition leaders and encouraging acts of sabotage against the South American nation’s electricity grid and economy.

“We completely reject the Venezuelan government’s allegations of U.S. government involvement in any type of conspiracy to destabilize the Venezuelan government,” the embassy said in a statement. “We likewise reject the specific claims against the three members of our embassy.”

The U.S. government is still evaluating how it will respond and may take reciprocal action in accordance with the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, the statement said.

Venezuelan state TV, to a backdrop of dramatic music, showed images of diplomatic vehicles and a flight manifest with the names of the U.S. officials that commentators said was proof they met with the opposition in the southeast of the nation.

“The three people were in Bolivar state conducting normal diplomatic engagement,” the U.S. Embassy statement said. “We maintain regular contacts across the Venezuelan political spectrum. . . . This is what diplomats do.”

The expulsions throw a wrench into cautious efforts this year to restore full diplomatic ties that were frayed for most of the 14-year rule of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

Maduro, Chavez’s successor, named a new acting head of Venezuela’s U.S. diplomatic mission shortly after his April election in what many took as a sign of warming relations.

That official may now face expulsion in the tit-for-tat style retaliation that has characterized similar incidents in the past.

Chavez in 2008 expelled Ambassador Patrick Duddy over what he called Washington’s involvement in violent protests in Bolivia. In 2010, he blocked the nomination of diplomat Larry Palmer over comments that there were “clear ties” between members of Chavez’s government and leftist Colombian rebels.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Venezuela expels three US diplomats over ‘sabotage’.


Nicolas Maduro: “We cannot accept that this group of US officials take action against the peace of the republic like this”

Venezuela has announced it is expelling three US diplomats, whom it accuses of plotting to sabotage the economy.

President Nicolas Maduro said the diplomats have 48 hours to leave the country, saying “Yankees, go home!”

Mr Maduro says he has evidence that the trio took part in a power-grid sabotage in September and had bribed Venezuelan companies to cut down production.

The United States and Venezuela have been without ambassadors in each other’s capitals since 2010.

The diplomats expelled have been named as Kelly Keiderling – the charge d’affaires and the most senior US diplomat in Caracas – David Moo and Elizabeth Hoffman.

“We completely reject the Venezuelan government‘s allegations of US government involvement in any type of conspiracy to destabilize the Venezuela government,” the embassy said in a statement.

It said it had not yet been officially notified of the Venezuelan government decision to expel the three diplomats.

Mr Maduro made the announcement during an official ceremony at the city of Santa Ana.

“Out of Venezuela! Yankees go home! Enough of abuse against the dignity of a peace-loving nation,” he said.

Venezuela is facing a shortage of several goods, including toilet paper, sugar and flour.

The opposition blames Mr Maduro’s left-wing policies and rhetoric for the crisis.

‘New York plot’

Relations between the two countries have been bad for over a decade.

For years, the late President Hugo Chavez denounced “American imperialism” in Latin America.

In December 2010, Mr Chavez denied a visa to the man appointed to be US ambassador to Caracas, Larry Palmer, over remarks he had made about involvement between the Venezuelan government and Colombian Farc rebels.

Supermarket in Venezuela, May 13The Venezuelan government seized a toilet paper factory last month to avoid any shortage

“Anyone who comes here as an ambassador has to show respect. This is a country that must be respected,” Mr Chavez said at the time.

The US retaliated and expelled the Venezuelan ambassador to Washington.

Mr Maduro took office as interim president when Mr Chavez was terminally ill with cancer. He was elected president in April, by a narrow margin, defeating opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

Mr Maduro’s new Foreign Minister, Elias Jaua, met the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, during a regional summit in Guatemala in June.

They both said they were determined to improve relations, but the good will did not last long.

Last week, Mr Maduro cancelled his scheduled speech at the United Nations Assembly General, saying that his life would be in danger in New York.

Mr Maduro accused two former US officials of being behind the “provocations”.

“The US government knows exactly that these people were behind a dangerous activity being plotted in New York,” he said.

Source: BBC NEWS.

Venezuela’s Maduro Cancels UN Speech Over New York Threats.


CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro canceled a trip to speak at the U.N. General Assembly’s annual gathering in New York because of what he called threats to his safety.

One of the alleged plots could have caused violence in New York and the other could have affected his physical safety, Maduro said in a national address carried on television and radio Wednesday.

“The clan, the mafia of Otto Reich and Roger Noriega once again had planned a crazy, terrible provocation that can’t be described in any other way,” Maduro said, referring to two former U.S. officials he frequently accuses of plots against Venezuela.

Maduro, who returned to Venezuela yesterday from a state visit to China, said he learned of the plots from “various sources” during a stopover in Vancouver and decided to return to Caracas.

The self-professed socialist accused the United States of inventing “thousands of excuses” for declining to authorize his transit through U.S. airspace over Puerto Rico last week.

The United States had information about the plots, Maduro said. The State Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I had to fulfill my maximum objective, to preserve my physical integrity, my life, and Venezuelan honor,” Maduro said.

The State Department said Sept. 20 that it granted Maduro’s request to pass through U.S. airspace en route to China from Venezuela after an “extraordinary effort” and that Venezuelan authorities had given one-day notice to use U.S. airspace instead of the required three days.

CUBAN AIRPLANE

Maduro said Wednesday that he traveled in a Cuban airplane because his presidential jet, manufactured by Airbus SAS, had problems after undergoing five months of maintenance in France. Venezuela is considering legal action against the European aviation company, Maduro said.

The State Department in March said claims by Venezuelan officials of U.S.-based plots to destabilize the South American country were “unsubstantiated and outlandish.”

Maduro, who won election in April after former President Hugo Chavez died in March, said in January that authorities uncovered a plot by opposition factions to assassinate him and National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Venezuela Slams US Over ‘Repressive Regimes’ Remarks.


CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro demanded the United States apologize on Thursday after the Obama administration’s nominee for envoy to the United Nations said there was a crackdown on civil society in the South American country.

Maduro has often clashed with Washington since winning an April election following the death of his mentor, socialist leader Hugo Chavez. He said Samantha Power‘s comments to a Senate confirmation hearing had been aggressive and unfair.

“I want an immediate correction by the U.S. government,” Maduro said in comments broadcast live on state television. “Power says she’ll fight repression in Venezuela? What repression? There is repression in the United States, where they kill African-Americans with impunity, and where they hunt the youngster Edward Snowden just for telling the truth.”

His comment was an apparent reference to the not-guilty verdict handed down in the Florida murder trial of George Zimmerman on Saturday for the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.

Maduro has been the most vocal of three Latin American leaders who offered asylum to Snowden, the 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor wanted by Washington for leaking details of secret surveillance programs.

Since taking office, Venezuela’s leader has veered between appearing to want better ties with Washington and denouncing alleged U.S. plots to assassinate him and trigger a coup d’etat.

During her Senate conformation hearing on Wednesday, Power vowed to stand up against “repressive regimes,” and said that meant “contesting the crackdown on civil society being carried out in countries like Cuba, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela.”

Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader who became Chavez’s foreign minister and vice president, said the “fascist right” in Venezuela were gleefully applauding her comments.

“And the U.S. government says they want to have good relations? What tremendous relations they want,” he scoffed.

In June, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Elias Jaua met Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines of a regional summit. That meeting was seen as a sign of improving ties after years of hostility during Chavez’s 14-year rule.

But the latest collision came when Maduro became the first foreign leader to say explicitly that he was offering asylum to Snowden, who has been trapped in the transit zone of a Moscow airport for more than three weeks.

Bolivia and Nicaragua also subsequently offered him sanctuary, but Venezuela’s government has said it can do little to help him as long as he remains stuck at the airport.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Ambassador Reich: Maduro Shows ‘False Manhood,’ Wants to be Chavez.


Former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela Otto Reich tells Newsmax that Venezuela’s offer of asylum for NSA leaker Edward Snowden is an attempt by President Nicolas Maduro to flex his “false manhood” and be more like his predecessor — the late dictator Hugo Chavez.

“Venezuela has nothing to gain. Maduro has a lot to gain,” Reich said in an exclusive interview on Friday. “Maduro gains that macho bravado that he has lacked so far. He’s really been a laughing stock in Venezuela because of things like his statement that Chavez came to him as a little bird and spoke to him. People have been making fun of that for months. He’s just not taken seriously. What better show of false manhood than to stand up to the great American empire — stand up to the Americans. This is what he’s doing.”

Reich, who was appointed ambassador by President Reagan and served from 1986 to 1989, also said that there are significant logistical hurdles that stand between the 30-year-old Snowden and his offer of asylum in Venezuela and also Nicaragua, where President Daniel Ortega has made a similar offer.

Snowden has been stuck in the Moscow airport without a valid U.S. passport since Hong Kong authorities allowed him to leave late last month just days after the U.S. government charged him espionage.

“In Ortega’s case it’s a freebie because he knows that Snowden is probably not going to go there. In addition to the fact Nicaragua is a much smaller country, the fact is there are no direct flights from Moscow,” Reich, a frequent Newsmax contributor explained.

“For Ortega, this is a sort of a clever way of appearing to be tough without running the danger that Snowden is going to ever knock on his door.”

And Reich noted said Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Maduro earlier this week at a meeting of natural-gas producing nations in Russia, bolstering the likelihood that Snowden will try to make his way to Caracas — perhaps on a commercial or a military flight.

That too could prove difficult if past history is any indication.

In the mid 1980s, Reich said, the U.S. intercepted a commercial flight originating from Cairo on intelligence that one of the accused Achille Lauro hijackers was aboard.

“But that was Ronald Reagan. I almost feel like saying ‘enough said,’” Reich lamented. “I hate to say it but we don’t have Ronald Reagan in the White House at this time and I think our adversaries know that.”

Even Bolivian President Evo Morales was not spared from the long reach of the U.S. when returning from the same meeting that Maduro attended in Russia with Putin.

“His airplane on the way back to Bolivia was diverted to Austria because several European countries refused to allow over flight — France, Italy and Spain among others,” said Reich. “The Austrians forced it to land and it was on the ground for 12 hours because they had been told — obviously erroneously that Snowden was on board.”

Knowing that, Reich said, commercial airlines might not want to risk having Snowden aboard their aircraft.

“What airline is going to sell this guy a ticket knowing there’s a relatively good chance that what happened to the official airplane of the president of Bolivia? As lunatic as he may be he is a head of state.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Paul Scicchitano

Nicaragua, Venezuela Offer Asylum to Snowden.


Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro offered asylum to former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden on Friday in defiance of Washington, which is demanding his arrest for divulging details of secret U.S. spy programs.

“In the name of America’s dignity … I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to Edward Snowden,” Maduro told a military parade marking Venezuela‘s independence day.

“He is a young man who has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the United States spying on the whole world.”

The 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor is believed to be holed up in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport.

Russian officials have kept Snowden at arm’s length since he landed from Hong Kong on June 23, saying the transit area where passengers stay between flights is neutral territory and he will be on Russian soil only if he goes through passport control.

It was not immediately clear how Snowden would react to Maduro’s offer, nor reach Venezuela if he accepted.

There are no direct commercial flights between Moscow and Caracas, and the usual route involves changing planes in Havana. It is not clear if the Cuban authorities would let him transit.

Given the dramatic grounding in Vienna of the Bolivian president’s plane this week over suspicions that Snowden was onboard, using European airspace could prove problematic.

One alternative flight plan would involve an aircraft taking off from Moscow, refueling in Vladivostok, and then continuing east over the Pacific to South America.

Russia has shown signs of growing impatience over Snowden’s stay in Moscow. Its deputy foreign minister said on Thursday that Snowden had not sought asylum in that country and needed to choose a place to go.

Moscow has made clear that the longer he stays, the greater the risk of the diplomatic standoff over his fate causing lasting damage to relations with Washington.

The White House declined to comment on Maduro’s offer.

Raising the possibility of at least one other option, Nicaragua said it had received an asylum request from Snowden and could agree to it “if circumstances permit”.

WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy organization, said on Friday that Snowden had asked six more nations for asylum, bringing to about 20 the number of countries he has appealed to for protection from U.S. espionage charges.

WikiLeaks said on Twitter it would not reveal which six new countries Snowden had applied to for asylum, due to “attempted U.S. interference”.

Maduro said Venezuela was ready to offer him sanctuary, and that the details Snowden had revealed of U.S. spy programs had exposed the nefarious schemes of the U.S. “empire.”

“Who is the guilty one? A young man … who denounces war plans, or the U.S. government which launches bombs and arms the terrorist Syrian opposition against the people and legitimate President Bashar al-Assad?” he asked, to applause and cheers from ranks of military officers at the parade.

“Who is the terrorist? Who is the global delinquent?”

COLONIES OF THE UNITED STATES

Since narrowly winning a presidential election in April that followed the death of his mentor, Hugo Chavez, from cancer, Maduro has often lambasted the United States – even accusing the Pentagon and former U.S. officials of plotting to kill him.

But the former bus driver and union leader has at times also struck a much more conciliatory note, saying he is ready for better relations with Washington, based on mutual respect.

Already one of Snowden’s most vocal supporters on the world stage, Maduro has sharpened his rhetoric in recent days.

It peaked after Bolivia said France, Portugal, Italy and Spain banned a plane carrying its president, Evo Morales, from using their airspace because of suspicions Snowden was aboard.

Latin America’s most vocal leftist leaders denounced that as a disgrace and a serious breach of protocol, and Maduro said the CIA, the U.S. spy agency, was behind it all.

Snowden had revealed that the United States was spying on its European allies, Maduro said on Friday, and yet European leaders still caved under U.S. pressure to ground Morales’ jet.

“The European people have seen the cowardice and the weakness of their governments, which now look like colonies of the United States,” the Venezuelan president said.

Venezuela’s opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, accused Maduro of making a fuss about Snowden to distract voters from a dismal economic picture at home, and a host of other problems including one of the highest murder rates in the world.

“Nicolas, you can’t use asylum to cover up that you stole the election. That doesn’t give you legitimacy, nor make the people forget,” Capriles said on Twitter.

Speaking in Managua, President Daniel Ortega said he would gladly give Snowden asylum in Nicaragua “if circumstances permit”. He did not say what those circumstances might be.

Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in the Americas, has benefited greatly from financial support from Venezuela, and Ortega was a staunch ally of Chavez.

A bid by Snowden for Icelandic citizenship hit an impasse on Friday when the country’s parliament voted not to debate the issue before its summer recess.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Newsmax Wires

Oliver Stone Making Chavez Film.


Image: Oliver Stone Making Chavez Film

Filmmaker and long-time Hugo Chavez fan Oliver Stone is making a movie about the late Venezuelan leader, according to President Nicolas Maduro.

“Oliver Stone is making a very beautiful film about our commander Hugo Chavez… that he will likely finish in the next months,” Maduro said on Thursday, at an event in the northwestern state of Lara.

“We are eager for its debut on the big screen in Venezuela,” he said.

Maduro said that one of Stone’s producers informed him about the film while on an official trip in Paris.

Chavez led Venezuela for 14 years until he died on March 5 after a long battle with cancer at the age of 58. A retired army lieutenant colonel, he died five months after being re-elected to a third six-year term in office.

Stone, 66, frequently has praised the outspoken Chavez, whom he interviewed for a 2009 documentary entitled “South of the Border,” exploring Chavez’s role in bottom-up change sweeping South America.

Other leftist leaders interviewed in that film included Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa.

Maduro said that Stone soon will visit Venezuela for the premiere of a film project on “the history of American imperialism.”

The director, who has described his views as “progressive”, is known for politically-angled productions that some critics dismiss as tendentious.

On his website, Stone describes some of his films as being “at deep odds with conventional myth.”

His movies include “Platoon” — the first in his Vietnam trilogy — “JFK,” “Natural Born Killers,” and “Nixon.”

He also directed “W.” — an unflattering portrait of former US president George W. Bush — and the hit movies “Wall Street” and “Scarface.”

© AFP 2013

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/film-Venezuela-Stone-Chavez/2013/06/21/id/511187#ixzz2WrrLPtfi
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Pope to Meet With Venezuela President Maduro in Vatican.


CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro is scheduled to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican on June 17.

It would be Maduro’s first meeting with the new Pope, who has called on Venezuela’s political rivals to work toward reconciliation following the April 14 presidential election that Maduro won by a thin margin.

Urgent: Should the Pope change the Catholic Church?

Both official Vatican News Agency and Venezuelan state news media reported the planned meeting.

Since taking office, Maduro has continued the frequent professions of Christian faith that were a hallmark of his mentor, the late President Hugo Chavez.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Venezuela’s Capriles: Government of Chavez Protégé Maduro Will Fall.


SAN FRANCISCO DE YARE, Venezuela — Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles says President Nicolas Maduro‘s government will “cave in” under the pressure of growing economic troubles, in-fighting and a belief by many Venezuelans that it stole the April election.

Capriles is still disputing the election, which he lost to Maduro by a narrower-than-expected 1.5 percentage points. But if, as expected, the fraud claims get nowhere in Venezuela’s courts, Capriles says other forces may sink the successor to the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

“I think this government, in the current conditions of illegitimacy added to a deep economic crisis it’s showing no intention of addressing, is going to cave in,” Capriles, the governor of Miranda state, told Reuters.

“What does that mean? Well, all the mechanisms are in the constitution: referendum, new election, resignation. But . . . don’t ask me for ways out that are not in the constitution. Our fight is a peaceful one,” he added in an interview in a rural zone of the state.

Post-election street protests backfired for Capriles when some people were killed in the chaos, allowing the government to attack him as a destabilizer and killer.

Now he and other opposition leaders seem to be banking on a steady deterioration in Maduro’s popularity and power. One possibility for opponents is a recall referendum, allowed in the constitution three years into a presidency.

That tactic was used unsuccessfully against Chavez during his 14-year rule of the South American OPEC nation.

Some opponents, though, say Venezuela’s economic problems — slowing growth, untamed inflation, product shortages, and hard currency bottlenecks — may prove too much for Maduro even before they can push for a recall referendum.

Capriles said a purported rivalry between Maduro and powerful Congress head Diosdado Cabello, also No. 2 of the ruling Socialist Party, was another factor to watch.

“They have an internal war . . . and that person [Cabello] wants to be president but knows it’s impossible via a popular vote. The only way, and this explains his game, is that things implode, break up, and he gets there by non-democratic means,” said Capriles, 40.

Some opinion polls show Capriles a few points ahead of Maduro should a presidential election be repeated – an unlikely prospect, however, given the election board’s multiple pronouncements that the results stand, including after an audit.

“This is the only government that took over and did not go up in the polls,” Capriles said. “There was no honeymoon. Look at all the countries in the Americas and the world, a government goes up some 10-15 points after taking over. Look at the opinion polls now, Maduro has an average of 40 percent.”

 

COLOMBIA CONTROVERSY

Maduro says the post-election dispute has laid bare Capriles’ non-democratic intentions, and officials vilify the opposition leader daily as a “fascist” and “murderer.”

They were incensed when he met last week with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in Bogota.

Maduro accused Santos, a conservative U.S. ally, of stabbing him in the back and fomenting plots from Colombia to murder him and topple his government in a coup.

In a reprise of the frequent diplomatic spats that his predecessor and mentor, Chavez, had with Colombia, Maduro withdrew an envoy to peace talks between the Colombian government and Marxist rebels and ordered a review of relations.

“By creating a fuss, they’re trying to stop me visiting other nations and stop other presidents seeing me. I’m going to keep touring Latin America, the next visit is a surprise,” Capriles said in the interview during a visit to San Francisco de Yare to inspect a home-building project.

“They’re also trying to distract attention from the nation’s grave problems by generating a situation of scandal and conflict, so economic problems, poverty, and shortages are knocked off the front pages.”

Capriles, who wants to introduce a Brazil-style mix of free-market policies and strong welfare protection, mocked Maduro’s plethora of accusations of plots from Colombia, the United States and within Venezuela.

“He says they’re going to poison him, that they’re going to infect him with something from somewhere — that sort of thing sounded fine from Chavez,” Capriles said. “When Chavez said it, it was amusing, we laughed, or believed him, but from this gentleman, please!”

While disputing the presidential vote result in the courts, Capriles hopes to turn municipal elections in December into a plebiscite on Maduro’s rule.

Capriles faces possible legal action for the deaths of some nine people killed during opposition-led post-election protests.

“They’re trying to criminalize dissent,” he said, questioning whether the killings had anything to do with politics. “None of the deaths the government has spoken of are linked to politics. And in this country, 50 people die each day from violence, yet the government does nothing.”

Reuters interviews with relatives and neighbors in one Caracas neighborhood where three people were killed indicated that two were shot from gangs shouting pro-opposition slogans, while a third was probably a victim of common crime.

Capriles took a relatively moderate line against Chavez during last year’s presidential election campaign, which the incumbent won before dying of cancer five months later. But he has been consistently aggressive against Maduro.

In the interview, he called him “two-faced,” “weak,” “incompetent” and “infantile.”

“I never thought someone who was foreign minister for six years could be so dumb handling international relations,” he said, referring to both the Colombian controversy and Maduro’s earlier fury at Peru for urging dialogue between Venezuela’s government and opposition.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Venezuela Furious at Colombia’s Meeting With Opposition Leader.


Image: Venezuela Furious at Colombia's Meeting With Opposition Leader

Venezuela’s opposition leader Henrique Capriles, left, speaks during a press conference next to Colombia Senate President Roy Barreras at Congress in Bogota on May 29.

CARACAS/BOGOTA — Venezuela reacted with fury to Wednesday’s talks between Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles, saying it was a “bomb” in ties and recalling an envoy to Colombia’s peace process.Capriles met Santos in Bogota at the start of a tour around Latin America to press his case that last month’s presidential poll in Venezuela was fraudulent and President Nicolas Maduro‘s government is therefore illegitimate.

Capriles, a 40-year-old business-friendly state governor, lost to Maduro, the successor to late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, by just 1.5 percentage points, according to official results.

The Maduro government has vilified Capriles as a “fascist” trying to stir a coup in Venezuela, and powerful Congress head Diosdado Cabello, who is also the No. 2 in the ruling Socialist Party, was the first to complain about the meeting in Bogota.

“Colombia must clarify if the government is with Capriles’ coup intentions, or with the people of Venezuela and with the legitimate, sovereign and constitutional government of comrade Nicolas Maduro,” Cabello told state media. “President Santos is putting a bomb in the good relations that President Chavez urged so much. . . . He is receiving a murderer, a fascist right there in his palace.”

Colombia is a major U.S. ally and the government before Santos had dire relations with Chavez’s administration.

But despite ideological differences, Santos patched things up with Chavez in the name of pragmatism and regional solidarity after taking power in 2010. That helped trade to flow and enabled both sides to chase criminal gangs on the border.

Colombian Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas on Wednesday offered to provide Venezuela with food and manufactured goods to ease shortages in the OPEC-member country.

Cardenas offered to meet with Venezuelan officials to discuss the issue in the coming days and find a form of payment that might involve an exchange of Colombian goods for crude oil.

‘FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY’

Capriles, whose politics are closer to Santos’ than Maduro’s are, also met with Colombia’s parliament leaders during Wednesday’s visit. He said he was taking his demand for justice abroad given that it was being stymied at home.

“We are taking the voice of millions of Venezuelans beyond our borders,” he told reporters, repeating his argument that the April 14 presidential vote was stolen from him. “The fight for democracy has to be everyone’s fight.”

Capriles said he and Santos spoke about the economy, security, Venezuela’s internal situation, and peace talks Colombia’s government is holding with Marxist guerrillas.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua echoed Cabello’s criticisms and said the country’s envoy to Colombia’s peace talks in Cuba, Roy Chaderton, would be recalled in protest.

“I deeply regret that President Santos has taken a step that is going to lead, in a painful way, to the derailing of the good relations that we had,” he told reporters.

Maduro has not specifically referred to Capriles’ visit, though on Tuesday he said that “right-wing” Venezuelans were traveling around the region planning economic sabotage and assassinations against his government.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

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