North America

Trump sounds 'almost Nazi-like', says Venezuela's president

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Venezuela's president Nicolas Maduro has lashed out at US president Donald Trump after he emphatically backed opposition leader Juan Guaido and cautioned the Venezuelan armed forces not to harm him.

Venezuela's embattled president Nicolas Maduro has rejected Donald Trump's call for a new day in Venezuela and compared the tone of the US President's speech in Miami to that of a Nazi.

The lashing comes after Mr Trump warned members of Venezuela's military who remain loyal to the socialist President that they are risking their future and their lives and urged them to allow humanitarian aid into the country.

"Who is the commander of the armed forces, Donald Trump from Miami?" Mr Maduro said on state television.

"They think they're the owners of the country."

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro responded to Donald Trump in comments broadcast on state television.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro responded to Donald Trump in comments broadcast on state television.
AAP

Earlier, the US president spoke to a cheering crowd of mostly of Venezuelan and Cuban immigrants in Miami and said that if the Venezuelan military continues supporting Mr Maduro, "you will find no safe harbour, no easy exit and no way out. You'll lose everything".

Mr Trump offered strong backing for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom the US, many of Venezuela's neighbours and most Western countries have recognised as interim president of Venezuela.

But Mr Maduro, who won a second term last year in an election that critics denounced as a sham, retains the backing of Russia and China and control of Venezuelan state institutions, including the security services.

Mr Trump cautioned Venezuelan armed forces not to harm Mr Guaido or other opposition politicians, urged them to accept the National Assembly leader's offer of amnesty and demanded that they allow in food, medicine and other supplies.

The US has sent tonnes of aid that is being stockpiled on Colombia's border with Venezuela, but Mr Maduro has refused to let it in.

Donald Trump pleaded with Venezuela's military to support opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Donald Trump pleaded with Venezuela's military to support opposition leader Juan Guaido.
AP

Mr Guaido, who invoked constitutional provisions to declare himself the country's leader last month, has said that aid will enter Venezuela from neighbouring countries by land and sea on Saturday.

If the opposition does not manage to bring it in then, it will try on following days, he said on Monday.

Mr Maduro calls the aid a US-orchestrated show and denies any crisis despite many Venezuelans' scant access to food and medicine.

"We seek a peaceful transition of power but all options are open," Mr Trump said.

It was a further hint of Trump's repeated insistence that military options remain on the table, though most Latin America experts believe such action is unlikely.

The US has had direct communications with members of Venezuela's military urging them to abandon Mr Maduro, a senior White House official said this month. Mr Trump's aides have openly predicted more defections.

But so far few military officers have turned against Mr Maduro.

Mr Trump used his speech at Florida International University to deliver a full-throated condemnation of socialism, saying it was "dying" across the Western Hemisphere and branded Mr Maduro a "puppet" of communist-ruled Cuba.

The US President wants to boost support among Florida's Hispanic voters as he looks ahead to his re-election campaign in 2020, when Florida is again expected to be an important swing state.

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