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Nicolas Maduro blames Venezuelan power struggle on U.S. 'coup'

By
Daniel Uria
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks after the publication of the electoral results in Caracas, Venezuela, on May 20, 2018. Maduro said Sunday that the United States has orchestrated a coup to remove him as the nation's leader in favor of head of the opposition-led National Assembly Juan Guaido. File Photo by Miguel Gutierrez/EPA-EFE
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks after the publication of the electoral results in Caracas, Venezuela, on May 20, 2018. Maduro said Sunday that the United States has orchestrated a coup to remove him as the nation's leader in favor of head of the opposition-led National Assembly Juan Guaido. File Photo by Miguel Gutierrez/EPA-EFE

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Sunday that the United States has orchestrated a coup to remove him as the nation's leader.

Maduro told CNN Turk that Venezuela is "the victim of a U.S. conspiracy," in reference to reports that U.S. Vice President Mike Pence promised the head of the opposition-led National Assembly Juan Guaido full American support. The Assembly declared Maduro illegitimate on Jan. 23 and swore in Guiado as interim president.

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Maduro said he has reached out to U.S. President Donald Trump multiple times, but hasn't received a response.

"I think he's overwhelmed with his domestic problem and, I believe, I think he despises us. He despises all of America and the Caribbean. I think he despises the world," Maduro said of Trump. "This is the reason for the coup. They don't want us to get better. They sabotage us and try to destroy the economic system."

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Maduro also accused Guaido, whom he called one of the United States' "political puppets," of violating "the constitution and all laws," by taking over the presidency and said the matter should be settled by the courts.

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"I am not the attorney general. It will be the job of the attorney general, it will be up to the courts to determine the steps to follow and we'll see. This pertains to the justice system," Maduro said.

Maduro responded Sunday to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's call to the United Nations Security Council on Saturday to back Guaido's transitional government, saying Pompeo is "desperate and full of hate."

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"He's someone that speaks with a lot of hate. He is pro-war. He's not a true diplomat. He's not respectful. They think they can control the world by yelling," Maduro said of Pompeo. "Once again, Venezuela will overcome this coup, and no imperial power will break the moral resistance of the people of Venezuela."

Maduro also said most of the non-emergency U.S. diplomatic employees ordered to leave the country in a travel advisory issued by the United States had left, while walking back his own order that they all leave the country.

He said he had authorized a small group of U.S. diplomats to stay in Venezuela, where they "will remain and comfortably continue their lives with the protection we will provide for them."

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The two countries now have 30 days to reach an agreement establishing interest sections, which permit basic consular functions.

In addition to tensions with the United States, Britain, Spain, Germany and France have also threatened to recognize Guaido as president if Maduro doesn't hold new elections within eight days.

Maduro responded by stating Venezuela has held elections recently -- including presidential elections in May -- and said the European nations should withdraw their demands.

"Nobody gives us an ultimatum," Maduro said. "All of Europe is bowing down to Donald Trump. It's that simple, especially when it comes to Venezuela."

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