Latin America

Venezuela’s Maduro denounces US ‘criminal policy’ at new parliament

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has denounced the United States' "illegal" sanctions and "criminal" blockade of his country, calling on newly sworn-in lawmakers to help improve the nation's economy.

Maduro made the remarks as he delivered an annual address to the new National Assembly on Wednesday.

“Since 2013, our economy has suffered the worst attack to avoid production itself. At this point, I call on all the deputies to help raise the country’s overall economy… The US has blocked us criminally and cruelly during the five years that the outgoing National Assembly was in session,” he said.

Maduro further said the sanctions imposed by the White House covered all aspects of the national economy.

“It is a multiform attack, covering aspects of the real economy such as income, currency, foreign debt, oil production, and imports of essential goods,” the Venezuelan president said.

“I want to reiterate the total disposition of the cabinet to attend work meetings, interpellations so that the Economy Commission assumes the elaboration of the laws for the recovery,” the Venezuelan president added.

In his speech, Maduro said the production of Venezuela’s state-oil company PDVSA had dropped enormously due to the unilateral sanctions imposed by US President Donald Trump.

He also said his country had lasted 13 months without selling a single drop of oil to the world, but Venezuelans “were still able to maintain the social investment.”

“Donald Trump’s criminal policy has been to prosecute Venezuelan accounts criminally; we have been robbed of more than 43 billion dollars. This has caused a criminal balance in the social life of the Venezuelan people,” Maduro said.

“The blockade and the sanctions have also disturbed the productive system and have done enormous damage to foreign companies that were doing business with Venezuela,” he added.

However, he said, 76.4 percent of the nation’s budget would be invested in the social sector by 2021, despite the illegal sanctions.

“We must reinvent ourselves in industry and commerce for a family, social, and community economy,” Maduro said.

Venezuela sits atop the world’s largest proven oil reserves but the big slump in oil prices in the past 18 months has slashed its revenues by 60 percent. Oil exports make up some 95% of Venezuela’s revenue.

Maduro further censured US-backed efforts to topple his administration and destabilize the Latin American country.

He also criticizedVenezuela’s opposition figure Juan Guaido for being an accomplice of Washington and a promoter of illegal economic, financial, and commercial sanctions.

Venezuela descended into political turmoil after Guido unilaterally declared himself “interim president” of the country in January 2019, and with Washington’s assistance and help from a small number of rogue soldiers later launched a botched putsch against the elected government. There was also an attempt at assassinating the legitimately-elected President Maduro with a drone in 2018.

Guaido’s self-proclamation and his coup received backing from the US administration.

Washington has imposed several rounds of crippling sanctions against the oil-rich Latin American country aimed at ousting Maduro and replacing him with Guaido.

The sanctions, which include the illegal confiscation of Venezuelan assets abroad and an economic blockade, have caused enormous suffering for millions of people in the country.

President Maduro further stated that during the December 2020 elections, the country turned to peace, “peace prevailed, the Constitution triumphed, and we must say with much pride: Venezuela triumphed.”

Maduro’s ruling party won a landslide victory in the legislative elections late last year.

Maduro also hailed his country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic despite the blockade.

He further thanked Russia, China, and Cuba for their scientific contributions to the fight against COVID-19 and sending vaccines to his country.

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