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Wednesday 16th
posted by James Tweedie in World

Maduro tells thronged masses to prepare for the threat of a Trump invasion

VENEZUELANS packed the streets of Caracas on Monday to oppose US President Donald Trump’s threat of military intervention in the country.

The Anti-Imperialist March, which stretched over a mile through the capital, denounced the US leader’s threat on Friday of a “military option.”

Supporters were joined by a large contingent of the Bolivarian National Guard.

National Guard officer Nelson Rafael Pineda said: “We will defend our country if at any moment the American empire wants to tread on the sacred soil of Bolivar and Chavez” — referring to Venezuela’s 18th-century national liberation hero and current Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s late predecessor.

The march ended in a rally at the Miraflores presidential palace, where Mr Maduro told supporters to prepare for an “imperialist invasion.”

“I have given the order to the armed forces’ joint chiefs of staff to start preparations for a national civil-military exercise for the integrated armed defense of the Venezuelan nation,” he said.

Mr Maduro also called the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mud) coalition “traitors” for their failure to fully condemn Mr Trump’s comments — as even hostile regional governments and blocs have done.

In its belated statement on Sunday, the Mud said it “holds the Maduro dictatorship responsible for turning the country into a regional threat.”

While rejecting military threats “from whatever foreign power,” it accused Cuba of intervention in Venezuela.

The opposition coalition has urged Venezuelan’s to take part in regime-change protests across the country for the past four months.

Many of the protests have turned violent, with casualties on both sides.

On Monday US Vice-President Mike Pence delivered a less aggressive message than his boss promising a peaceful resolution to Venezuela’s “collapse into dictatorship.”

“A failed state in Venezuela threatens the security and prosperity of our entire hemisphere and the people of the United States of America,” he told reporters in Cartagena, Colombia.

Venezuelan Vice-President Tarek el-Aissami condemned Mr Pence’s visit to neighbouring Colombia.

“We are deeply saddened that that nation, a sibling country that is Colombia, founded under the same sword that founded this homeland, would lend itself to that menace, would lend itself to the aggression against our people,” he said.