By Agence France-Presse
US President Donald Trump threatened Venezuela with swift “economic actions” on Monday if its leader, Nicolas Maduro, pushes on with an unpopular bid to change his country’s constitution in the teeth of mounting condemnation.
The warning came as the opposition coalition in Venezuela called a nationwide strike for Thursday to kick off a “final offensive” aimed at forcing Maduro from office through early elections.
Maduro, Trump said in a statement, was “a bad leader who dreams of becoming a dictator.”
“The United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles,” he said.
Trump did not specify what measures could be taken. But the warning dramatically raised the stakes and scope of the long political and economic crisis that has been battering Venezuela.
Nearly 100 people have died since April, when street protests against Maduro turned violent.
Trump’s stance explicitly sided with the Venezuela’s opposition, which accuses Maduro — a leftist, anti-American president who took over from his mentor, the late Hugo Chavez — of trying to accumulate dictatorial powers to hang on to the reins.
It risked feeding Maduro’s frequent allegations that he was the victim of a plot by a colluding right-wing opposition and the “imperialist” United States.
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