Venezuela says it has ended the process of normalizing its relations with the United States over remarks by Washington’s ambassador-designate to the UN.
During her confirmation hearing before a US Senate committee on July 17, Samantha Power claimed Venezuela, along with several other countries, was conducting a “crackdown on civil society.”
“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela hereby ends the process … of finally normalizing our diplomatic relations” that started in early June, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said in a Friday statement.
The statement added that Caracas is opposed to the “interventionist agenda” presented by Power.
On Thursday, the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro denounced Power’s remarks as “outrageous,” and demanded “an immediate correction by the US government.”
“Power says she’ll fight repression in Venezuela? What repression? There is repression in the United States, where they kill African-Americans with impunity, and where they hunt the youngster Edward Snowden just for telling the truth,” he added, referring to the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.
Venezuela has offered asylum to Snowden, an American former technical contractor for the US National Security Agency (NSA), who is wanted in the United States for leaking details of Washington’s secret surveillance programs.
Maduro was the first foreign leader to state openly that he was offering sanctuary to Snowden.
Venezuela and the US have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010. However, in June US Secretary of State John Kerry and Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua agreed on the sidelines of a regional summit in Guatemala that officials would “soon” meet for talks that could lead to an exchange of envoys.
In March, Caracas expelled two US military attaches over allegations of trying to foment instability in Venezuela.
Washington also angered Caracas by supporting Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who disputed the results of the April presidential election, in which Maduro won the race with 50.7 percent of the vote against 49.1 percent for Capriles.