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ALBA slams US decision against Venezuela

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (C) addresses leaders during an emergency meeting of the Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, on March 17, 2015.

Members of a regional bloc of Latin American and Caribbean nations have slammed the United States for its decision to label Venezuela as a security threat and impose sanctions against a number of its officials.

The 11-nation Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) held an extraordinary summit in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, on Tuesday to show its support for the country amid rising tensions between Washington and Caracas.

On March 9, US President Barack Obama signed an executive order, labeling Venezuela an “extraordinary threat to national security.” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro reacted by calling the US an “imperialist threat.”

Under Obama’s order, the US property and bank accounts of seven Venezuelan officials, including former national guard chief Antonio Benavides, intelligence chief Gustavo Gonzales and national police chief Manuel Perez, will be frozen and they will be denied US visas.

Washington accuses the officials of rights violations in relation to last year’s protests in Venezuela.

On Tuesday, Cuban President Raul Castro strongly defended Venezuela even as his country is in talks with the US for the re-establishment of diplomatic ties after over half a century.

“The US needs to understand once and for all that it can’t seduce or buy Cuba, just as it can’t intimidate Venezuela. Our unity is indestructible,” Castro said.

Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino also said, “Declaring a country a threat is a prelude to an invasion,” adding that it was “fundamental” for the region to unite against “what could be an intervention in Venezuela.”

Earlier this week, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) also urged Obama to revoke his executive order against Venezuela.

Caracas and Washington have been at odds since late Hugo Chavez became Venezuela’s president in 1999. Both sides have refused to exchange ambassadors since 2010.


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