CARACAS: Venezuela accused the United States on Monday of “psychological terrorism” designed to bring down the government after it was included in a list of eight countries targeted by a travel ban.
In a speech at the UN General Assembly, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza described US President Donald Trump as acting like “the world’s emperor.”
Amid an escalating war of words, Arreaza said Venezuela would seek dialogue with Washington to “stop the madness and irrationality.”
Last week, he accused Trump of being “racist and supremacist” after Trump told the annual UN assembly that the US was ready to act to restore Venezuela’s democracy.
“As a free people, we are ready to defend our sovereignty, our independence and our democracy in any scenario and in any way,” Arreaza said.
In a short statement to reporters following his speech, he added: “I insist, if they attack us on the ground, we will respond forcefully in the defense of our country and of our people.”
Earlier, his foreign ministry had said that “these types of lists. . . are incompatible with international law and constitute in themselves a form of psychological and political terrorism.”
Venezuela was added Sunday to a new list of countries targeted by the US ban, due to what it called poor security and a lack of cooperation with American authorities
The restrictions on Venezuela were limited to officials from a list of government agencies and their families, while full travel bans were placed on nationals from the other seven countries, including Chad and North Korea.
The socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro said Washington was using the fight against terrorism for its own political ends.
The foreign ministry statement said the ban was seeking to “stigmatize” Venezuela “under the pretext of combating terrorism, by including it in a unilaterally drawn-up list and accusing other states of being alleged promoters of this terrible scourge.”
It rejected “the irrational decision of the United States government to once again catalog the noble Venezuelan people as a threat to their national security.”
Venezuela has been rocked by months of economic chaos and deadly protests as Maduro tries to consolidate control, including through a new Constituent Assembly that has wrested power from the opposition-dominated legislature.
Most of the nations affected by the ban announced Sunday were part of a measure targeting Muslim countries that Trump authorized shortly after taking office.
Sudan was removed from the original list, after recent praise from US officials for Khartoum’s efforts in fighting terrorism.
The new restrictions replace an expiring 90-day measure that had locked Trump in political and legal battles since he took office in January over what critics alleged was an effort to bar Muslims from the country.