tbo: Tampa Bay Online.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
World

Venezuelan leader to Trump: 'Get your pig hands out of here"

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro delivered his most scathing critique of U.S. President Donald Trump yet Friday, telling him to stop intervening and "get your pig hands out of here."

Speaking before a crowd of supporters, a fired-up Maduro accused Trump of promoting an interventionist policy that infringes on his socialist government's sovereignty.

"Go home, Donald Trump!" he said in heavily accented English.

The remarks come a day after the Trump administration slapped sanctions against eight members of Venezuela's Supreme Court, accusing them of damaging the nation's democracy. A ruling by the court in late March stripping the opposition-controlled assembly of its remaining powers ignited a deadly wave of unrest.

While Venezuelan leaders have lashed out at U.S. presidents frequently in the past, Maduro had largely been careful not to antagonize Trump. But Trump's repeated criticisms of the troubled South American nation appear to have struck a nerve.

Speaking alongside Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Thursday, Trump expressed dismay at Venezuela's crisis, asking how a country holding the nation's largest oil reserves could be stricken by so much poverty and turmoil.

Trump described Venezuela's current state as a "disgrace to humanity."

Nearly two months of street protests throughout Venezuela have left at least 46 people dead. Demonstrators are demanding new elections and blaming Maduro for the nation's triple-digit inflation, rising crimes and vast food shortages.

Maduro is pushing to resolve the crisis by convening a special assembly to rewrite the nation's constitution. That proposal has been rejected by the opposition, and on Friday, a letter by the nation's chief prosecutor, Luisa Ortega Diaz, a long-time government loyalist, made it clear that she will not support it either.

Ortega Diaz broke with the government shortly after the Supreme Court's controversial ruling in March, calling it a "rupture" of the constitutional order. Days later Congress partially reversed its decision amid international outcry.

In her letter, Ortega Diaz hailed the country's 1999 constitution as one of the most advanced in the world and a best legacy of the late President Hugo Chavez. She said that far from resolving the nation's current crisis, convoking the special assembly would likely only serve to further accelerate the nation's upheaval.

"It's not necessary, pertinent, or convenient to carry out a transformation of the state in the terms that a new constitution could imply," she wrote.

Maduro said Friday the constitution rewrite would proceed.

Trump's sanctions and comments against Venezuelan officials played to the government's longstanding accusations of U.S. imperialism in Latin American affairs. Maikel Moreno, the president of Venezuela's Supreme Court, and among those sanctioned by the U.S. government, said Friday that Trump's executive order was an attempt to impose its authority over Venezuela's institutions and compromise the judicial branch's independence.

"Get your hands out of here," Maduro said to the U.S. president. "Get your pig hands out of here!"

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