Venezuela accuses USA of 'political and financial lynching'

Venezuela accuses USA of 'political and financial lynching'

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro announced Tuesday that he is expelling the top two USA diplomats in the country in retaliation for US sanctions put in place by the Trump administration after what US officials called a "sham" election.

The United States was among a string of countries that did not recognize Sunday's vote.

"I repudiate all the sanctions that are sought against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, because they harm it, they generate suffering for the people of Venezuela", said Maduro.

Maduro claimed USA charge d'affaires Todd Robinson was involved in "a military conspiracy", ordering him and senior diplomat, Brian Naranjo, to leave Venezuela within 48 hours.

"We will present evidence to the country of the conspiracy in the military field of the United States charge d'affaires and his embassy, of the conspiracy in the economic field and of the conspiracy in the political field".

"They must leave the country in 48 hours, in protest and in defence of the dignity of Venezuelan".

"We energetically reject the accusations against me and against Brian Naranjo", said Robinson, in comments streamed live on Facebook by local media.

Venezuela's president said Tuesday that he would expel Todd Robinson, the US chief of mission, and another USA official.

The U.S. Mission to the UN Twitter account tweeted that Venezuela's elections "an insult to democracy".

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US-led worldwide sanctions on Venezuela have become the object of growing criticism over the past year, with UN Independent Human Rights Expert Alfred de Zayas calling the measures a "crime against humanity" and encouraging Caracas to take Washington to the global Court of Justice. Major obstacles to the participation of opposition political parties and their leaders, an unbalanced composition of the National Electoral Council, biased electoral conditions, numerous reported irregularities during the Election Day, including vote buying, stood in the way of fair and equitable elections.

The main opposition candidate, Henri Falcón, officially won 21.2%.

The State Department said they had seen the reports and defended Robinson and Naranjo. Oil production has plummeted 30 percent and Venezuela has defaulted on about $50 billion in debt.

Likewise, over 150 personalities and intellectuals from the USA and Canada, including Danny Glover and Noam Chomsky, have expressed concern about the ethics of their government's sanctions against Venezuela and the humanitarian consequences.

But the fact is that the Trump Administration has not yet taken major steps to curb USA oil imports from Venezuela, which account for the Maduro regime's biggest - if not only - legal source of income. More than 1 million people have fled the country in the past two years and 14,000 percent inflation has crushed the minimum wage to less than $2 a month.

Most mainstream economists say the country's strict currency controls, heavy state intervention and money-printing are responsible for a crisis that has caused widespread shortages of food and medicine and led to mass emigration. The South American country uses mostly US diluents to reduce the viscosity of its heavy oils, and would have to pay much more to get them elsewhere.

A State Department official told AFP that Washington had "not received notification from the Venezuelan government through diplomatic channels", but that if the expulsions are confirmed, "the United States may take appropriate reciprocal action".

"We alert the global community to the threat to world peace represented by the supremacist, racist and interventionist regime that governs Washington today, inspired by the nefarious postulates of the Ku Klux Klan", the foreign ministry said in a statement.

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