Venezuela prepares for war with U.S. after travel ban

CARACAS – Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has called on his nation’s military leaders to prepare for war against the U.S. days after the Trump administration banned Venezuelan officials from entering the nation.

“We have been shamelessly threatened by the most criminal empire that ever existed and we have the obligation to prepare ourselves to guarantee peace,” said President Maduro, who wore a green uniform and a military hat as he spoke with his army top brass during a military exercise involving tanks and missiles.

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“We need to have rifles, missiles and well-oiled tanks at the ready….to defend every inch of the territory if needs be,” he added.

The Trump administration has taken a hard stance against Maduro’s regime by banning money lending to Venezuela’s government or its state oil company PDVSA, and passing sanctions against Maduro and his top officials.

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Referencing the U.S. sanctions during his speech at the military base, Maduro said, “The future of humanity cannot be the world of illegal sanctions, of economic persecution.”

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However, it’s unlikely Maduro has the manpower to stand up to the U.S., which has a much larger military.

Maduro has maintained power in Venezuela despite mounting political and economic crises that has seen months of violent, anti-government demonstrations across the South American nation.

Russia has defended Maduro in recent months, going so far as to accuse Trump of preparing for an invasion of Caracas. “We are strongly against unilateral sanctions against sovereign states,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in August.

“We will carefully analyze the implications of the sanctions imposed by the United States, and their possible effect on the interests of Russia and Russian businesses. We can already say that they will not affect our willingness to expand and strengthen cooperation with the friendly nation of Venezuela and its people.”

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China and Latin American neighbors including Chile have also rejected interference in the socialist nation.