Wednesday, March 21, 2018
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Nicolas Maduro vows to attend Summit of Americas

Critics accuse Venezuela's leadership of financial mismanagement as the country is gripped by hyperinflation.

Nicolas Maduro

Venezuela's president vowed on Thursday to show up at the Summit of the Americas in Peru in April after he was told this week not to bother coming.

Maduro has accused conservative governments in Latin America - specifically Argentina, Colombia and Peru - of siding with the United States in allegedly planning his overthrow and takeover of the country's vast oil resources.

"They're the most unpopular governments on the planet," said Maduro.

Venezuela is home to the world's biggest crude reserves. Despite years of spiraling oil prices, detractors also accuse the Venezuelan leadership of financial mismanagement as the country is gripped by hyperinflation, food shortages, and economic turmoil.

The Venezuelan government accuses rival states of imposing devastating economic warfare through sanctions.   

Crashing the party

Asked about not be invited to the April meeting in Peru's capital Lima on Thursday, Maduro promised he'd be there.

"Do you fear me? You don't want to see me in Lima? You're going to see me. Because come rain or shine, by air, land, or sea, I will attend the Summit of the Americas," Maduro said during a press conference with foreign journalists.

Maduro does have allies in Latin America. Cuba's foreign ministry on Thursday said it rejected Venezuela's exclusion from the summit and vowed "unshakeable solidarity" with Maduro's government.

Bolivia's Evo Morales and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega are also on Maduro's side, as are China and Russia, which have both lent Caracas billions of dollars.

Venezuela's leader announced last week an election will be held on April 22. Critics, including the US and other regional governments, accuse Maduro of sidelining opposition leaders and say the vote won't be free and fair.

While criticised by some world powers over Venezuela's April election call, Maduro announced on Wednesday he wants nationals living in the US city of Miami to vote, even though there's a strong opposition presence there.

Reversing a move by his predecessor Hugo Chavez, Maduro ordered the reopening of Venezuela's consulate in Miami.

Maduro said he made the decision after receiving requests from the Venezuelan community in Florida state's largest city to open the consulate so they could vote.

"I have given the instruction to the foreign minister to proceed immediately to open the Miami consulate so that all Venezuelans can enroll in the electoral registry," Maduro said.

"In Venezuela there will be no coup d'etat… So there will be presidential elections and the people will decide who is their president in a free way."

Venezuela's Miami consulate was closed in 2012 by Chavez, just before his final presidential election before dying of cancer early the following year.

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