"We demand, via all global diplomatic channels, that President Obama rectify and repeal the immoral decree declaring Venezuela a threat to the United States," Maduro said during a speech at an “anti-imperialist march” in the capital city of Caracas, where he nearly shouted out of anger.
Latin American leaders are largely lining up to support Maduro, saying the US overstepped its bounds and meddled in regional affairs it has no business being involved in.
"This is an unacceptable attack on Venezuela’s sovereignty," said Ecuadorian officials, while Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said it was ridiculous to think that Venezuela could pose a threat to such a superpower. "It’s absolutely incredible to think that Venezuela is the problem. It’s absurd and unjustified," she said.
Cuba called Washington’s action as "arbitrary and aggressive," while the Bolivian government said Obama’s executive order was "interventionist" and reminded them of a dictatorship.
Maduro went on to accuse the Obama administration of trying to overthrow the Venezuelan government, which he reiterated was "democratically elected" while the US is "an imperialist police state."
President Obama’s executive order declaring Venezuela a threat also imposes sanctions on seven Venezuelan military and government officials, including freezing their US bank accounts and other assets in the United States.
Maduro has been in office since 2013, after the death of charismatic Hugo Chávez, a frequent Washington critic. The US argues that the Venezuelan government prosecutes opponents, curtails press freedoms and violates human rights — charges Maduro dismisses as a plot against him.
The Venezuelan president said he is considering traveling to Washington to challenge Obama over the White House’s assertions. Maduro said his government is preparing an event in the US capital to refute the labeling.
"Maybe I'll appear in Washington, to show my face for my country and tell the government in Washington they are committing grave mistakes," he said.
The US State Department says it is not interested in toppling the Venezuelan government but rather in having it change its ways.