Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has condemned US President Donald Trump for inviting Venezuelan opposition figure Juan Guaido to Washington.
Guaido is held responsible for causing political crisis in Venezuela when he unilaterally declared himself “interim president” of the country in January last year, rejecting the outcome of the May 2018 election, which Maduro had won. Guaido also later launched an abortive coup against the elected government.
Guaido’s self-proclamation as president and his coup received backing from Washington. Caracas has said election results must be respected, but it has refrained from arresting Guaido over the coup with lenience.
Guaido met with Trump on Wednesday, in an attempt to rekindle his failing campaign to oust Maduro from power. He had also been invited to the House chamber on Capitol Hill to be present for Trump’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday.
The White House said in a statement later that Washington would continue “to work with partners in the region to confront “the illegitimate dictatorship” in the South American country.
A few hours later, President Maduro, who was speaking in a nationally televised address, denounced the meeting and said that Trump was “taking the United States toward a high-level conflict with Venezuela.”
“I call on the honest sectors of the United States to confront this interventionist, illegal, and immoral policy of Donald Trump against the noble and peaceful people of Venezuela,” he added, warning Trump that promoting Guaido and attempting to impose him on the Venezuelans will certainly bring “failure” to the White House.
Guaido’s had earlier met with European and Canadian leaders, part of his attempts to rekindle support for his bid for power.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Maduro said that he had authorized local companies to issue securities in hard currency.
“The other important thing that has been proposed is legal authorization for companies to issue securities in foreign currency… Approved!” he said.
The move came almost a year after Caracas unexpectedly relaxed 15 years of strict economic regulations, abandoning the enforcement of price controls and permitting transactions in dollars in the face of high inflation and crippling US sanctions.
Washington, which has imposed several rounds of harsh sanctions against Caracas amid an economic crisis, has been pushing to topple Maduro in part by establishing a representative office called Washington’s Venezuela Affairs Unit (VAU) based in Colombia to keep in touch with Guaido.