Venezuela rejects coup accusations, calls critics imperialists

International condemnation poured in after the high court's decision, which effectively dissolved the legislature and tightened socialist President Nicolas Maduro's grip on power.

Published: 31st March 2017 08:13 PM  |   Last Updated: 31st March 2017 08:13 PM   |  A+A-

A university student shouts at a line of Venezuelan National Guard officers in riot gear during a protest outside of the Supreme Court in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, March 31, 2017. (Photo | AP)

A university student shouts at a line of Venezuelan National Guard officers in riot gear during a protest outside of the Supreme Court in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, March 31, 2017. (Photo | AP)

By AFP

CARACAS: Venezuela on Friday rejected accusations that a Supreme Court move to seize the powers of the opposition-majority legislature amounted to a coup, lashing out at its critics as "imperialists."

International condemnation poured in after the high court's decision late Wednesday, which effectively dissolved the legislature and tightened socialist President Nicolas Maduro's grip on power.

The United States, the European Union, the head of the Organization of American States (OAS) and a host of Latin American countries all condemned the move.

Venezuela accused its neighbors of being beholden to the United States, which Maduro accuses of plotting to oust him.

"Venezuela repudiates this onslaught by intolerant, right-wing and pro-imperialist governments in Latin America under the orders of the US State Department," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"It is false that there has been a coup d'etat in Venezuela. On the contrary, its institutions have adopted corrective legal measures to halt the deviant, coup-mongering actions of opposition lawmakers."

Condemnation meanwhile continued to pile on Friday.

Colombia and Spain became the latest to oppose the court's move, joining Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Chile and others.

Colombia recalled its ambassador to Venezuela, while Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned on Twitter that "when you break the division of powers, you break democracy."

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro called for the regional organisation's permanent council to hold crisis talks on the situation.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein also voiced "grave concern."

"The separation of powers is essential for democracy to function, and keeping democratic spaces open is essential to ensure human rights are protected," he said in a statement.

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