In a four-minute Facebook video – published as Venezuela prepared for a day of fresh pro-opposition protests on Wednesday – Maduro claimed the leaders of the US “empire” were conspiring “to get their hands on our oil – just like they did in Iraq and in Libya”.
Unable to accuse Venezuela’s government of stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, they were instead waging a media campaign of fake news to justify intervening in a country that boasts the world’s biggest crude reserves, Maduro claimed.
“We will not allow a Vietnam in Latin America. If the US intends to intervene against us they will get a Vietnam worse than they could have imaged. We do not allow violence. We are a peaceful people,” Venezuela’s embattled leftist leader added.
“I ask that Venezuela be respected and I ask for the support of the people of the US so there isn’t a new Vietnam, least of all here in our America.”
In the video, Maduro painted himself as US “admirer” who had visited Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York and Washington and wanted closer relations with the US. “The United States is so much bigger than Donald Trump, so much bigger,” he said.
But Maduro looks unlikely to repair relations with the Trump White House, which has thrown its full weight behind his rival to the presidency, Juan Guaidó. On Monday, Trump stepped up its battle against Maduro by announcing sweeping sanctions against the country’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA.
Maduro also said on Wednesday he was willing to negotiate with Guaidó.
“I’m willing to sit down for talks with the opposition so that we could talk for the sake of Venezuela’s peace and its future,” he said.
Maduro said the talks could be held with the mediation of other countries, naming Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia, the Vatican and Russia.
Venezuela’s supreme court has imposed a travel ban and financial restrictions on Guaidó, including freezing his bank accounts.
Guaidó, a 35-year-old former student leader and head of Venezuela’s opposition-run national assembly, has been in the forefront of a renewed attempt to force Maduro from power since last week when he declared himself Venezuela’s rightful interim president in a daring challenge to the incumbent.
Guaidó has called a two-hour protest for Wednesday afternoon and a larger mobilisation on Saturday. At noon on Wednesday, opponents of Maduro – who was elected in 2013 and again last May in disputed elections – have been urged to take to the streets holding white pieces of paper on which they should write their reasons for wanting Maduro out.
They are being asked to post photographs of their protests on social media under the hashtag #TodosTenemosRazones (we all have reasons) before singing the national anthem.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Source: The Guardian