Maduro starts new term by accusing US of ‘world war’

(Guardian) – The Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, has castigated the European Union and accused Washington of waging an imperialist “world war” against his crisis-stricken nation, as he shrugged off a tempest of international condemnation to begin his second term in office.

Maduro, who inherited Hugo Chávez’s Bolivarian revolution after his 2013 death, has overseen a calamitous decline in his country’s fortunes and was re-elected in disputed elections last May.

The United States secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, condemned Maduro’s “illegitimate usurpation of power” and vowed to “use the full weight of US economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy”.

The European Union called last year’s vote “neither free, nor fair”, and saidMaduro was “starting a new mandate on the basis of non-democratic elections”.

Latin American governments also denounced the inauguration, with Paraguay breaking off diplomatic ties and Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, branding Maduro “the victimizer who plays victim”.

“Venezuela is living under a dictatorship,” Macri tweeted.

Maduro defied those attacks during a feisty 80-minute address to fellow chavistas and international leftist allies including the Nicaraguan president, Daniel Ortega, Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Cuba’s Miguel Díaz-Canel.

“We are a true, profound, popular and revolutionary democracy … not a democracy of the elites … of super-millionaires who go into power to enrich their economic group and to rob the people,” he claimed. “And I, Nicolás Maduro Moros, am a genuinely and profoundly democratic president.”