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Trump says US stands with Venezuelans’ quest for freedom

US President Donald J. Trump delivers his second State of the Union address from the floor of the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, Feb. 5, 2019. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

US President Donald J. Trump delivers his second State of the Union address from the floor of the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, Feb. 5, 2019. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

EFE

The president of the United States on Tuesday reaffirmed his support for Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president, saying his government stood with the people of the South American country in their pursuit of freedom.

In his State of the Union Address , Donald Trump ramped up the pressure on Nicolas Maduro amid the raging power tussle in Venezuela, alleging that the beleaguered leader had pushed the country into extreme poverty.

“Two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela, and its new interim president, Juan Guaido,” Trump said.

A good number of Republican and Democratic legislators, who were present for the address in the chamber of the House of Representatives, applauded when Trump reiterated his government’s decision to recognize Guaido.

“We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom. And we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair,” the president said.

“America will never be a socialist country,” Trump thundered.

The US was the first country to recognize Juan Guaido as the legitimate head of state of the oil-rich nation after the opposition leader and speaker of Venezuela’s National Assembly proclaimed himself as acting president on Jan. 23.

Washington had earlier imposed sanctions to target Maduro, who has been the head of state since 2013, and his inner circle, ruling that Venezuelan assets in the US banking system belonged to the National Assembly, which Guaido-led opposition controls.

In response to US’ recognition of Guaido as the president, Maduro cut off diplomatic and political ties with Washington, and ordered its embassy and consulates in the country to be shut down.

The Venezuelan envoy to the US by Guaido, Carlos Vecchio was invited as special guest to the US president’s address by senator Marco Rubio, who has influenced policies of the US towards Venezuela and in Guaido’s recognition as the interim president.

Besides the US, 19 countries belonging to the European Union have also recognized Guaido as the interim Venezuelan president after an ultimatum they had signed calling on the embattled Maduro to call early elections expired.


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