"The government of Donald Trump is carrying out the act of war and pursuing the policy of modern piracy toward Venezuela. It has introduced unilateral restrictive measures, which have led to deaths, pain and suffering of the Venezuelan people. The US blockade is criminal and illegal," Valero said at a press conference. "Trump is a war criminal. He is committing war crimes toward Venezuela," Valero said.
The diplomat was referring to a recent report by US economists Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs, who said economic sanctions implemented by the United States since August 2017 had caused tens of thousands of deaths and had been worsening the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.
Tensions in Venezuela have been high since opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself to be interim president in January and received recognition as such from the United States and its allies. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in turn, has been backed by Russia, China and other states as the only legitimate president of Venezuela. The United Nations also still recognizes the Maduro government.