Tags: LT | Venezuela | US

Venezuela Rejects US Accusations of Rights Abuses

Sunday, 04 Jul 2010 08:47 PM

 


Venezuela's top diplomat accused U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton of attacking his country for seeking Latin American unity and opposing U.S. influence in international affairs.

He said she has "an obsession" with nations that stand up to Washington.

"This new attack against our country from Hillary Clinton ... demonstrates a policy of intrigue, aggression and desperation," Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro was quoted as saying by Venezuela's state-run news agency.

Earlier Sunday in Azerbaijan, Clinton said the United States is challenging crackdowns on human rights in several countries including Venezuela. The other offenders on Washington's radar include Belarus, Iran and Cuba — all close allies of President Hugo Chavez.

Clinton, who is traveling through Europe, said the trip aims to demonstrate the Obama administration's commitment to democracy and human rights.

In Poland on Saturday, she warned that in some countries "the walls are closing in" on the likes of unions, religious groups, rights advocates and other organizations that are critical of governments.

Maduro denied Venezuela violates the rights of government opponents.

"We have a vital democracy of a new kind developing, one that points toward socialism," he said Sunday.

He also took a dig at the U.S., saying: "The people of the United States would like to have the political and social rights and freedoms of the Venezuelan people."

Relations between Caracas and Washington have been rocky for years. Chavez has accused successive U.S. administrations of trying to orchestrate his ouster and meddle in Latin America's affairs. U.S. officials, in turn, have raised concerns that Chavez is becoming increasingly authoritarian and focusing his international agenda on opposing Washington.

The United States remains Venezuela's leading trade partner and the top buyer of Venezuelan oil, though oil exports to the U.S. have slipped recently as Chavez seeks to diversify the nation's customers.


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