Venezuelan Foreign Minister Dismisses US Travel Ban

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Dismisses US Travel Ban

The Trump administration has sought to punish Maduro and his government for what USA officials say is a slide toward dictatorship.

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza last week accused US President Donald Trump of being "racist and supremacist" after Trump told the UN General Assembly that the US was ready to act to restore Venezuela's democracy.

Invoking former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's famous quip that the podium "smells like sulfur" after then-U.S. President George W. Bush addressed the assembly in 2006, Arreaza said: "It's still valid".

Whereas Trump lashed out at Venezuela, calling the administration of President Nicolas Maduro a "socialist dictatorship" that destroyed a once wealthy country, Arreaza reminded the USA president - a man who only received enough popular votes to claim second place in last year's US presidential campaign - that Venezuela has held 22 elections in the past 18 years. But he added later that his country was open to dialogue with the U.S. "Nobody is asking for intervene in Latin America or the Caribbean".

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the administration's decision to include Venezuelan officials on a travel ban is a form of "political and psychological terrorism".

Venezuela's Supreme Court gutted the opposition-controlled congress in March.

The new restrictions replace an expiring 90-day measure that had locked Trump in political and legal battles since he took office in January over what critics alleged was an effort to bar Muslims from the country.

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have fled the country's political and economic turmoil.

It came hours after the White House announced a new executive order adding three new countries - Venezuela, North Korea and Chad - to a list that already included Libya, Iran, Syria, Somalia and Yemen, while removing Sudan. The United States has introduced financial sanctions against the Venezuelan government.

On Sunday, Trump signed an order that will bar certain Venezuelan government officials and their immediate families from entering the U.S. The Trump administration says Venezuela's government has been uncooperative in verifying whether its citizens represent national security threats.

Last week, Trump told the assembly Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was running a "corrupt regime.' Maduro responded from Caracas by calling Trump 'the new Hitler" of global politics.

Following his speech, Arreaza told reporters that President Nicolas Maduro was open to holding talks with his USA counterpart, but reserved the right to defend his country from foreign aggression.

"The US are constantly attacking us, there was new aggression yesterday, related to the visas for diplomats and their families", Arreaza said.