CARACAS. — Venezuela’s natural reserves, such as oil, gas, and gold, encourage the US to seek regime change there, President Maduro told RT, saying he won’t be remembered as a leader who showed weakness and ignorance to his people.
“What is Donald Trump’s ‘casus belli’ against Venezuela? The ‘casus belli’ is the oil of Venezuela, the riches of Venezuela, its gold, gas, iron, diamonds, other material riches,” Maduro said in an exclusive interview with RT Spanish. The remarks come as Western nations pile overwhelming pressure on the Latin American country.
President Maduro, who is widely seen as the successor to the cause of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, said it doesn’t matter how he will go down in history.
What does matter, he said, is that he doesn’t want to be a “traitor” and a “weak person,” bowing down to Washington.
Turmoil in Venezuela escalated on the heels of economic hardships which saw the country suffer from galloping inflation, skyrocketing prices and low living standards. Yet, President Maduro believes his government has a solution to those troubles.
Admitting that “hyperinflation caused tremendous damage to us,” he suggested that the resources “kidnapped by the world” be freed for a national recovery.
Aside from that, the government will work on keeping prices as low as possible and will stabilise the national currency rate. US sanctions also did their job, President Maduro said.
He labelled Washington’s restrictions against state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) and its US subsidiary Citgo illegal, saying Caracas will respond.
“What they have done has no name, it has never been done against any country,” stated President Maduro.
CIA World Factbook for 2017 says Venezuela has the world’s biggest proven crude oil reserves, surpassing those of Saudi Arabia, Canada, Iran and Iraq.
During the crisis, Venezuelan officials suggested that oil is behind US attempt to replace Maduro with someone friendlier to Washington.
As Bush-era arch-hawk John Bolton put it, the US had “a lot at stake” in Venezuela’s affairs.
“It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela,” he told Fox Business host Trish Regan.
The US has steadily toughened sanctions on Venezuela in recent years in an effort to weaken the government and destabilise economy.
Some international observers believe the sanctions and economic war hit Venezuela’s people in the first place, contributing to the lack of medicine, malnutrition and mortality.
In a separate development, President Maduro said he had written to Pope Francis asking him to help mediate his country’s crisis after a number of nations recognised an unelected opposition member as interim leader.
“I sent a letter to Pope Francis,” President Maduro told Italy’s SkyTG24 television in an interview broadcast on Monday.
“I told him that I serve Christ’s cause . . . and in this spirit I asked for his help, in a process of facilitating and strengthening dialogue,” said Maduro, who has rejected calls for snap presidential elections.
“I ask the Pope to put in his best effort, his will to help on the path of dialogue. I hope to receive a positive response,” he said. — RT/AFP/HR.