Venezuela 'ends' bid to restore diplomatic ties with US
Venezuelan President reacted after Samantha Power vowed to oppose the countries 'crackdown on civil society'
Venezuela has announced it is ending efforts to improve diplomatic relations with Washington after comments by the woman nominated as the next envoy to the UN vowed to oppose "a crackdown on civil society" in the “repressive” OPEC nation.
President Nicolas Maduro has responded angrily by demanding an apology from the United States, arguing that they have no moral right to criticise his government.
The Foreign Ministry in Caracas said Samantha Power's remarks had contradicted “in tone and content” what it said US Secretary of State John Kerry told his Venezuelan counterpart, Elias Jaua, during their meeting last month.
“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is terminating the process that was started during the conversation in Guatemala, which was aimed at regularizing our diplomatic relations,” the ministry said on Friday in a statement.
Relations have frayed since Maduro became the world's first leader to offer asylum to Edward Snowden, the former US intelligence contractor wanted by Washington for disclosing details of secret surveillance programs.
During a Senate conformation hearing this week, Ms Power promised to stand up against “repressive regimes”, and said that would mean “contesting the crackdown on civil society being carried out in countries like Cuba, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela.”
The Foreign Ministry described her comments as “interventionist,” and said the UN had often recognized Venezuela's “solid system of constitutional guarantees” that ensured its citizens' fundamental rights.
“By contrast, the whole world is constantly expressing its concern over repressive practices carried out by the United States,” the Ministry said.
“They include the violation of human rights at the illegal prison in Guantanamo, the killing of civilians by drones, and the lamentable persecution unleashed against Edward Snowden.”
It said the 30-year-old National Security Agency whistleblower was subjected to “the most fierce repression” for exercising his right to denounce US practices “that violate, among others, the right to privacy of all the world's people.”
Maduro has offered sanctuary to Snowden, who has been trapped in a Moscow airport transit zone for almost a month.
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