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Maduro to Macri: ‘respect us or we’re done’

Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro holds a copy of the country''s Constitution while he talks to supporters during an event at the 4F military fort in Caracas on Saturday.

Venezuelan leader threatens to cut off relations with Argentina after weeks of rising tensions

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro threatened to cut off relations with President Mauricio Macri’s administration over the weekend, after weeks of rising tensions between the two countries.

“I’m telling the president of Argentina, Macri, who has been attacking Venezuela: Either you will respect us or we’re done,” said Maduro Saturday night during a political rally held in the Montaña military barracks, where the remains of former president Hugo Chávez are held.

Maduro claimed “oligarchic” forces were behind Macri’s new foreign policy shift and that they were dismantling the regional blocs they had developed in the Latin American region.

“The empire and oligarchy have broken the rules of the game, while we are the ones who are maintaining peace and democracy,” he said.

Maduro claimed they want to break apart the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) that Chávez helped found.

His statements came hours before the Pink House announced yesterday that Macri would not be participating in the CELAC summit in Quito, Ecuador, after his doctor allegedly warned him Quito’s altitude could complicate his rib fracture injury. This is despite having travelled to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where leading business and political figures gathered, a week ago (see Page 4).

Maduro, who announced he would attend CELAC, promised he “would give it his all,” at the conference.

“No one is going to shut me up, I’m going to say all the truths, I won’t accept abuses from anyone,” said the Venezuelan president.

He went on to warn that the right-wing governments in Latin American were rising up against the Boliviarian revolution, and that there would be a free-for-all battle for the new America, if they didn’t respect each other. “I’m requesting respect for Venezuela, respect the Bolivarian fatherland. Don’t mess with Venezuela,” Maduro said.

The Venezuelan president anticipated that he would call on the South American people to support the Bolivarian revolution during the summit, and stressed that it was very important to know where each region stood, so they can construct policies to confront the non-conventional methods of war that the “empire” has developed.

Rebuttal to Davos

On Friday, Macri gave a press conference where he repeated earlier criticisms of Venezuela, claiming it had lost respect for human rights because it did not respect freedom of expression and is incarcerating politicians with out due case. This was in reference to Venezuelan opposition leader, Leopoldo López, who has been in jail since February 2014, for allegedly leading street protests that caused 43 deaths, 873 injuries and 189 human rights violations cases.

However, when a journalist asked Macri if it were possible to compare López’s arrest to the incarceration of Jujuy province social activist Milagro Sala, who was arrested last January 16 for leading a sit-in, he became irritated and said the two cases weren’t comparable. Macri then left the press conference.

Earlier this month, Maduro criticized the PRO chief when he confirmed the appointment of his Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez. When announcing her nomination, the Venezuelan leader praised her for criticizing Macri during the Mercosur summit last December.

“I’m going to make a controversial comment. When Delcy (Rodríguez) spoke during the Mercosur summit, she made a fool out of Macri. From that day on he went home and hasn’t appeared publicly since. Mr. Macri, please recover and go back to governing Argentina,” said Maduro during a national TV broadcast. He then went on to criticize the massive layoffs in the public sector and accused the Let’s Change leader of being an extreme right-wing leader.

Mercosur removal

The origin of the hostilities between Venezuela and Argentina began during Macri’s first press conference after being elected president last November.

During the conference, Macri threatened to remove Venezuela from the Mercosur regional trade bloc as one of the first foreign policy initatives he would pursue after taking office. While he later backtracked after the Venezuelan government’s party accepted the negative results of a key legislative elections held on December 6, his repeated criticisms against Maduro’s human rights policies hasn’t ceased since then, leading to the continuing exchange of criticisms between the two countries.

Herald with AP, Reuters

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