Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accused US President Donald Trump of promoting an interventionist policy that infringes on his socialist government’s sovereignty.
He said in a scathing critique of the US leader on Friday to stop intervening and “get your pig hands out of here.”
Speaking before a crowd of supporters, a fired-up Maduro cried in heavily accented English: “Go home, Donald Trump!”
The remarks come a day after the Trump administration slapped sanctions against eight members of Venezuela’s Supreme Court, accusing them of damaging the nation’s democracy. A ruling by the court in late March stripping the opposition-controlled assembly of its remaining powers ignited a deadly wave of unrest.
While Venezuelan leaders have lashed out at US presidents frequently in the past, Maduro had largely been careful not to antagonize Trump. But Trump’s repeated criticisms of the troubled South American nation appear to have struck a nerve.
Speaking alongside Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Thursday, Trump expressed dismay at Venezuela’s crisis, asking how a country holding the nation’s largest oil reserves could be stricken by so much poverty and turmoil.
Trump described Venezuela’s current state as a “disgrace to humanity.”
Nearly two months of street protests throughout Venezuela have left at least 46 people dead. Demonstrators are demanding new elections and blaming Maduro for the nation’s triple-digit inflation, rising crimes and vast food shortages.
Maduro is pushing to resolve the crisis by convening a special assembly to rewrite the nation’s constitution. That proposal has been rejected by the opposition.
Maduro said Friday the constitution rewrite would proceed.
Meanwhile, like many Portuguese immigrants to Venezuela after World War Two, Manuel Fernandes spent a lifetime building a small business: his bread and cake shop in a highland town.
It took just one night for it to fall apart.
The first he knew of the destruction of his beloved “Bread Mansion” store on a main avenue of Los Teques was when looters triggered the alarm, resulting in a warning call to his cellphone at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
Fernandes was stuck at home due to barricades and protests that have become common in seven weeks of anti-government unrest in Venezuela. So he was forced to watch the disaster unfold via live security camera images.
Unrest and protests against Maduro have caused at least 46 deaths plus hundreds of injuries and arrests. They have also sparked widespread nighttime looting.
When a mob smashed its way into a bakery in El Valle, a working class neighborhood of Caracas, last month, eleven people died, eight of them electrocuted and three shot.
This week, Maduro’s government sent 2,000 troops to western Tachira state, where scores of businesses have been emptied.
In Los Teques, an hour’s drive into hills outside Caracas, locals spoke of up to half a dozen more deaths in looting and clashes this week between security forces and young protesters from a self-styled “Resistance” movement.
There has been no official confirmation of those deaths.