Venezuela accuses US of 'political and financial lynching'

Caracas (AFP) –


Venezuela said Tuesday it was the victim of a "political and financial lynching" after the United States tightened sanctions on Caracas over Nicolas Maduro's re-election.

President Donald Trump ratcheted up the pressure on Maduro on Monday following what the United States called a "sham" election by signing an order that would make it harder for Caracas to sell off state assets.

The Maduro regime responded by accusing Washington of intensifying a "criminal financial and economic blockade," which it called a crime against humanity for impeding "access to essential goods."

"We alert the international community to the threat to world peace represented by the supremacist, racist and interventionist regime that governs Washington today, inspired by the nefarious postulates of the Ku Klux Klan," the foreign ministry statement said in a statement.

It said US policy "promotes hatred, intolerance and political and financial lynching" of Venezuela.

The deeply unpopular Maduro was elected to a second term as president on Sunday in a vote boycotted by the main opposition coalition and marred by a record 52 percent abstention rate.

Venezuelans are reeling under an acute crisis, with hyperinflation projected by the IMF to reach 13,800 percent this year and dire shortages of food and medicine.

Hundreds of thousands have fled the country to escape the growing deprivation.

Caracas is also facing increasing international isolation, with the United States, the European Union and the 14 countries of the Lima Group, which includes Canada, Brazil and Argentina, refusing to recognize the election result.

US Vice President Mike Pence decried the election as "neither free nor fair. The illegitimate result of this fake process is a further blow to the proud democratic tradition of Venezuela."

Trump's executive order Monday tightens pre-existing sanctions against the leftist regime.

The White House action would complicate Venezuela's efforts to sell off financial IOUs known as "accounts receivable." Senior US administration officials said the instruments had been used to garner much-needed revenue for the cash-starved regime.

Washington has previously slapped sanctions on the president and his senior aides, and banned US entities from buying any more debt from Caracas or state oil company PDVSA.

Maduro has insisted Venezuela is the victim of an "economic war" waged by the conservative opposition and external powers including the United States aimed at toppling him.

Most economists attribute the oil-rich country's economic collapse to years of mismanagement, corruption and a period of sharply lower oil prices.