President Donald Trump gave an impact-filled and explosive speech to the United Nations on Tuesday. In front of world leaders, one of the crucial points he highlighted aside from North Korea is his insistence for global leaders to help restore “democracy and political freedoms” in Venezuela. Trump minced no words in criticizing the South American country.
Trump said in his speech: “The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing. Their democratic institutions are being destroyed. The situation is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch. I ask every country represented here today to be prepared to do more to address this very real crisis.”
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro didn’t like Trump’s speech, to say the least and wasted no time in hitting back Trump by calling him “the new Hitler” of international politics. Maduro also made the erroneous accusation that Trump threatened to have him assassinated, although the U.S. leader made no such statement, or even suggested it. Maduro said that: “Donald Trump today threatened the president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela with death.”
What Trump did issue a threat on is in the area of giving further economic sanctions to Venezuela that the U.S. already initiated last month if Maduro “persists on a path to impose authoritarian rule.”
Trump, however, held back on reiterating another previous threat of considering military options to pressure Venezuela. Such decision may have been affected in part by the results of his dining with the leaders of four Latin American countries including Colombia, Brazil, Panama and Argentina who expressed disinterest on a military option as sanction against Venezuela.
Maduro did not attend the U.N. General Assembly gathering, and simply issued his angry reaction from Caracas. He called Trump’s speech an aggression against the people of Venezuela. He also said: “Nobody threatens Venezuela and nobody owns Venezuela.”
In the past, Latin American affairs normally take a backseat for Washington during international gatherings, but Trump opted to put Venezuela in the priority list of countries that should be a cause for concern for the U.S. as well as the world- a list that includes trouble-making North Korea, and strife-ridden Syria and Iran.
Venezuela is in the midst of a deep crisis as the country struggles with widespread shortages of food and medicine and triple-digit inflation. Tens of thousands of its people have fled the political crisis gripping the country.
Recently, a constitutional assembly completely comprised by government loyalists has been installed, with the apparent motive of only going after Maduro’s political foes. A number of opposition mayors have since been removed or ordered arrested by the Supreme Court.
Maduro’s government for all its reported abuses and excesses has become increasingly isolated from the region.
Opposition leaders in Venezuela welcomed the attention their country received at the U.N. Assembly led by Trump’s speech. Marudo’s loyal supporters protested against the U.S.