Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro declared a 60-day state of emergency on Friday due to what he called plots from within the OPEC country and the United States to topple his leftist government.
Maduro did not provide details of the measure, but he said that it includes the ability to face outside threats, such as Colombia’s former president Alvaro Uribe’s demand for intervention in Venezuela by foreign troops. He added that the previous state of exception included decrees “to protect the people and the socioeconomic stability of the country.”
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting with ministers at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas. | Photo: Reuters
Earlier on Friday, U.S. intelligence officials told reporters they were increasingly worried about the potential for an economic and political meltdown in Venezuela and predicted Maduro was not likely to complete his term.
Venezuela’s opposition is seeking to recall the leader amid a worsening crisis that includes food and medicine shortages, frequent power cuts, sporadic looting and galloping inflation.
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But the former union leader and bus driver has vowed to stick out his term and accuses the United States of fomenting an undercover coup against him. He pointed to this week’s vote against fellow leftist Dilma Rousseff in Brazil — followed by the U.S.’s “complicit silence” — as a sign that he is next.
“Washington is activating measures at the request of Venezuela’s fascist right, who are emboldened by the coup in Brazil,” Maduro said during a Friday night broadcast on state television. He said that a “coup virus” could return to Latin America.
Washington has had an acrimonious relationship with Caracas for years, especially following U.S. support for a short-lived 2002 coup against late leader Hugo Chavez.
Venezuela’s ruling Socialist Party has long been a strong ally of Rousseff’s Workers Party, however, and her departure adds to Maduro’s isolation in Latin America.
He also extended a state of economic emergency over what he has called aneconomic war led by the United States and opposition.