Venezuela seeks diplomacy with U.S. as relations deteriorate

The last time the countries shared ambassadors was in 2010.
By Andrew V. Pestano  |  Feb. 5, 2015 at 7:28 AM
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CARACAS, Venezuela, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has asked a United Nations official to mediate talks between Venezuela and the United States.

Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations Ernesto Samper was in Caracas for talks with Maduro. Maduro addressed President Barack Obama directly during a speech.

"President Obama, I say this with goodwill: We hope that you set a new and different tone with Venezuela," Maduro said. "Rectify and stop in time the coup plan [that would see] the destruction of Venezuela."

The relationship between Venezuela and the United States has further decayed since the United States imposed sanctions in December.

The United States also established more visa bans on several Venezuelan officials on Monday.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the visa bans "are sending a clear message that human rights abusers, those who profit from public corruption and their families, are not welcome in the United States."

The sanctions and subsequent visa bans were imposed by the United States due to allegations of Maduro's government violating human rights, suppressing protesters and corruption.

Maduro quickly reacted to the accusations by calling the United States hypocritical.

"What human rights are they talking about?" he asked.

"They kill black youth in the street with impunity. They persecute and have concentration camps of Central American kids. [In Guantanamo], they have abducted dozens of citizens of the world under no known legal system, submitting them to torture, isolation," Maduro said during a speech.

Maduro also accused U.S. Vice President Joe Biden of attempting to overthrow his government during a Caribbean energy summit in Washington, D.C., in January. Maduro said Biden told Caribbean leaders that the Venezuelan government's days are numbered.

Biden's office denied the claims in a statement.

"President Maduro's accusations are clearly part of an effort to distract from the concerning situation in Venezuela, which includes repeated violations of freedom of speech, assembly, and due process," the statement said.

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