Maduro says US wants to 'fabricate' Venezuela crisis to start war

Our Foreign Staff
Venezuelan security forces clash with supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido - AFP

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accused the American government of manufacturing a crisis in an attempt to start a war in South America, in an interview broadcast on Monday.

"Everything that the United States government has done has been doomed to failure," Maduro told American broadcaster ABC News from the presidential palace in Caracas in remarks translated by the network from Spanish.

"They are trying to fabricate a crisis to justify political escalation and a military intervention in Venezuela to bring a war to South America."

Meanwhile Spanish-language US television network Univision said on Monday a news team led by anchor Jorge Ramos was released after being detained at the presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, while interviewing President Nicolas Maduro.

The network said Maduro did not like the questions they were asking and confiscated the team's equipment and recording from the interview.

"I'm talking with @jorgeramosnews. He and the other members of the team were freed," tweeted Daniel Coronell, president of news for Univision.

Jorge Ramos shows a video he says his crew shot showing Venezuelan youth picking food scraps out of the back of a garbage truck in Caracas Credit: STF

In response to Univision's claims, Venezuela's information minister Jorge Rodriguez tweeted that the government had in the past welcomed hundreds of journalists to the Miraflores presidential palace, but it did not support "cheap shows."

Univision and the US Department of State had called on Maduro to release the journalists.

"We insist on their immediate release; the world is watching," tweeted Kimberly Breier, assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs.

Shortly after their release, the Univision team reported they had been informed they would be deported from the country on Tuesday. 

Earlier in the day, US Vice President Mike Pence announced $56 million in aid to Venezuelans as well as tougher US sanctions as he joined a Lima Group meeting of Latin American countries plus Canada that was also attended by opposition leader Juan Guaido.

The United States is among some 50 countries that recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president.

Maduro blasted the talks in Bogota as being "politics to attempt to establish a parallel government in Venezuela."

Washington, he said, "wants Venezuela’s oil" and is "willing to go to war for that oil."

"The extremist Ku Klux Klan government that Donald Trump directs wants a war over oil, and more than just oil," Maduro said, describing Venezuela as a "pacifist, humble nation."

But he also said he was ready to participate in a "direct dialogue" with the Trump administration.

Asked if he would allow Guaido back into the country, Maduro said: "He has to respect the laws."

Guaido "can leave and come back and will have to see the face of justice because justice had prohibited him from him leaving the country."