CARACAS – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro responded on Monday at a massive government-staged public event in Caracas to the warning issued last week by his US counterpart, Donald Trump, that military action might be undertaken in the country amid its severe political and economic crisis.
“Go home,” was the response from Maduro three days after Trump issued his warning, and after the entire Venezuelan government and a large part of the international community had rejected the possibility of military intervention in the South American country.
“The (Venezuelan) people are determined to confront the US extremists, supremacists and racists, and to defeat them,” Maduro said during an incendiary speech before thousands of cheering chavista supporters.
Thousands of people participating in the so-called “anti-imperialist march” convened by the government on Monday made their way through streets in western Caracas and arrived near Miraflores presidential palace, where a dais had been installed bearing the statement “Trump out of Latin America” in gigantic letters.
There, Maduro railed against what he called the “disproportionate, bombastic and vulgar” warnings issued by Trump and said that “nobody will intimidate or defeat” the Venezuelan people.
He went on to thank the “governments and leaders” of the world who, he said, had expressed their rejection of the possibility of military operations in the Caribbean nation.
The chavista leader said that the Trump administration has taken this stance vis-a-vis Caracas due to the “defeat” suffered by the opposition MUD coalition in its attempt to bring about his ouster in recent months in a wave of anti-government protests that have left more than 120 people dead.
The White House said on Friday that Trump had refused to speak with Maduro by telephone, and the US president asked that he “respect Venezuela’s constitution, hold free and fair elections, release political prisoners, cease all human rights violations, and stop oppressing Venezuela’s great people,” although “instead, Maduro has chosen the path of dictatorship.”
The statement came shortly after Trump told reporters that “a military option” to the Venezuelan political and economic crisis was still possible, although the Pentagon confirmed that it had “not received any orders with regards to Venezuela.”
Meanwhile, Maduro also announced on Monday that the Venezuelan military will stage an exercise designed to prepare for “comprehensive armed defense of the homeland.”
“A national civil-military exercise of comprehensive armed defense of the Venezuelan homeland (will take place) on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 26-27, throughout the national territory,” Maduro told the crowd of thousands in Caracas.
He said that members of all military branches, along with the Bolivarian National Guard, the militia and public workers, will participate in the Bolivarian Sovereignty 2017 exercise.