US extends national emergency over ‘Venezuela threat’

NEW YORK (AA): U.S. President Donald Trump Tuesday extended the national emergency in his country due to “the extraordinary threat to national security” Venezuela poses.

“The circumstances described in Executive Order 13692, and subsequent Executive Orders issued with respect to Venezuela, have not improved and they continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” Trump said in a White House statement.

He added that the the national emergency, first declared in 2015, will be extended for one year in accordance with National Emergencies Act.

The 2015 Executive Order imposed sanctions against seven Venezuelan government officials for human rights violations and corruption.

Trump extended the range of action of the Executive Order five times to prevent Venezuelan officials from avoiding the sanctions imposed by Washington.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called on his supporters Tuesday to attend “anti-imperialist” rallies on March 9, the same day that anti-government marches will be held by the opposition.

Speaking at a ceremony to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, Maduro said he would defeat a “crazed minority” planning to destabilize the country.

Venezuela has been rocked by protests since Jan. 10, when Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycotted by the opposition.

Tensions escalated when Juan Guaido, who heads Venezuela’s National Assembly, declared himself acting president on Jan. 23, a move which was supported by the U.S. and many European and Latin American countries.

Turkey, Russia, Iran, Cuba, China and Bolivia reiterated their support for Maduro, who vowed to cut all diplomatic and political ties with the U.S. Maduro insists he is a victim of a U.S.-orchestrated coup amid a spiraling economic and humanitarian crisis in the country.

U.S. President Donald Trump pointed to military intervention as among a number of options he could choose to help resolve the crisis.

Venezuela is experiencing widespread shortages of food and medicine and has the highest inflation rate in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund.