20:03 GMT +323 March 2019
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    Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting with businessmen in Caracas, Venezuela January 9, 2017

    'People Worldwide Will Rise' to Defend Venezuela if US 'Empire' Invades - Maduro

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    Tensions between Washington and Caracas escalated last month, after the US recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido's attempt to usurp presidential authority in the Latin American country.

    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has expressed confidence that people around the world would "rise" to defend his country in the event of a US military invasion.

    "If Venezuela is attacked by the US empire, the peoples of the world will rise up and begin fighting it together," Maduro said, speaking to medical university graduates on Tuesday.

    In his speech, which was posted on his Twitter account, Maduro accused the US of "aggressive, unilateral and imperial actions," and suggested that the Venezuelan-US conflict was one between US aggression and advocates of a "multilateral democratic approach based on accord, harmony and dialogue between peoples throughout the world."

    The Venezuelan president's speech followed an address by US President Donald Trump in Miami on Monday, where Trump warned that "all options are open" in resolving the Venezuelan crisis.

    Also on Tuesday, tensions between Venezuela and its neighbours escalated after the Venezuelan military announced that it was "on alert" against border violations amid plans by the opposition to bring Western aid into the country.

    "The armed forces will remain deployed and on alert along the borders, as our commander in chief has ordered, to avoid any violations of territorial integrity," Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said in a statement.

    Earlier, the Venezuelan military announced the closure of the country's maritime borders with the Dutch Antilles amid suspected Dutch plans to open a logistical hub for humanitarian aid on the island of Curacao.

    A Brazilian government spokesman vowed to send humanitarian aid to the border with Venezuela by the weekend.

    Caracas has denounced US plans to distribute humanitarian aid to the crisis-hit country, calling the Washington aid narrative a "mountain of lies" and expressing fears that such aid could be used as a pretext for a military intervention. Earlier this month, Venezuela's national guard seized rifles and ammunition from a Valencia-bound plane coming from Miami.

    Venezuela's long-running political and economic crisis escalated in late January, after Juan Guaido, speaker of the semi-defunct opposition-controlled National Assembly, proclaimed himself interim president, pending fresh elections.

    The US, Canada, and a number of European and Latin American states recognised the opposition leader. Russia, China, Cuba, Bolivia, Mexico, Iran, Syria, Turkey, and others voiced their support for the country's democratically elected president, or urged the US and its allies not to meddle in Venezuela's affairs. The Venezuelan government characterised Washington's support for Guaido as an attempt to orchestrate a coup d'état.

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    Tags:
    imperialism, warnings, threats, invasion, response, intervention, Donald Trump, Nicolas Maduro, United States, Venezuela
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