Venezuela Slams New US Sanctions as Washington Hints at Oil Embargo

Venezuela Slams New US Sanctions as Washington Hints at Oil Embargo

Venezuela ordered the expulsion of the top two U.S. diplomats in the country Tuesday, charging it was the victim of a "political and financial lynching" after Washington tightened sanctions over Nicolas Maduro's re-election.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro won a second term in office last Sunday.

"We energetically reject the accusations against me and against Brian Naranjo", said Robinson, in comments streamed live on Facebook by local media.

Late past year, in another move created to pressure the Venezuelan government to protect the human rights of its citizens, Canada banned 19 Venezuelan officials from the country, including Maduro, and also froze any assets they had in Canada.

"We do not recognize Nicolas Maduro as the legitimate president of Venezuela".

The socialist leader won another six-year term Sunday in an election derided by opposition groups and many in the global community. Most opposition parties decided not to participate after officials blocked their most popular leaders from competing.

Caracas condemned "a systematic aggression campaign" by the United States, which attempted "to punish the Venezuelan people for exercising their sacred and legitimate right to vote".

The South China Morning Post, which caught Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang's tepid reaction to the Venezuela situation, notes that China has been a reliable ally of the socialist chavista regime for years, but has slowly begun distancing itself from Maduro as he has failed to control the calamitous state of the Venezuelan economy.

Maduro promised to present "evidence" that both diplomats were engaged in a political, military and economic "conspiracy".

Fourteen countries including Argentina, Brazil and Canada recalled their ambassadors from Caracas in protest.

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

More obstacles to PDVSA's ability to sell oil overseas could restrict already-dwindling foreign exchange earnings.

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

Thousands of Venezuelans have fled their country due to crippling economic conditions and shortages of food, water, and medical resources.

The latest United States sanctions against Venezuela and uncertainties of oil supply in the Middle East have already sent the price of crude soaring to five-year record highs. "America stands against dictatorship and with the people of Venezuela".

In the lead-up to the vote, Mr. Robinson took a less confrontational tone than that coming from Washington Republicans, most notably Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who posted a picture of a prison jumpsuit after Mr. Cabello was sanctioned, implying that the Venezuelan would be jailed.

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