Maduro strikes at neighbors

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro faces members of the foreign media at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela on Wednesday before he is sworn-in for a second, six-year term. AP

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro hit out at his regional detractors on Wednesday, threatening to take “diplomatic measures” against them if they refuse to acknowledge his re-election.

Maduro is due to be sworn in for his second term on Thursday, after winning a highly controversial snap election last May.

Last week, a band of 14 countries from the Americas, known as the Lima Group, called on Maduro to step down and hand power to Venezuela’s sidelined, opposition-controlled parliament ahead of “democratic elections.”

At a press conference, an angry Maduro slammed the “interventionist and rude policy” of the Lima Group and vowed to “defend the national interests.”

He warned his government would “take the most immediate and crude diplomatic measures” should those governments fail to change their position on Caracas “within 48 hours.”

Maduro accused the bloc of paying lip service to the United States and was particularly angered by the Lima Group’s support for Guyana, one of its members, in a territorial dispute with Venezuela.

The Lima Group’s declaration — signed by 13 of its 14 members as Mexico abstained — rejects any “provocation or military deployment” by Venezuela that could “threaten peace or the region.”

It also called on Maduro to refrain from “acts that violate the sovereign rights of his neighbors” — a reference to the Venezuelan navy’s interception last month of two vessels doing seismic studies for US oil giant ExxonMobil in an area that is disputed by Caracas and Guyana.

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