After the recent war of words with US President Donald Trump, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has urged the country's military to prepare to fight against "the most criminal empire" of the US. The socialist leader asked the military to be ready to defend "every inch of the territory".
Trump and Maduro heaped scorn on each other after the former's sharp criticism of the Venezuelan government at the UN General Assembly. While lashing out at Maduro, Trump called the Caracas administration a "socialist dictatorship".
Maduro's call came during his address at an airbase late on Tuesday, 26 September. The event near the northern city of Maracay was attended by top military authorities.
Dressed in full military uniform, he said: "We have been shamelessly threatened by the most criminal empire that ever existed and we have the obligation to prepare ourselves to guarantee peace."
"We need to have rifles, missiles and well-oiled tanks at the ready....to defend every inch of the territory if needs be."
The US recently added Venezuela to a list of countries that have been subjected to a controversial travel ban. "The future of humanity cannot be the world of illegal sanctions, of economic persecution," Maduro said, referring to the travel restrictions.
This is not the first time Maduro was reacting to Trump's stinging speech at the UN. Earlier, he called Trump the "new Hitler" of international politics.
Maduro warned: "Nobody threatens Venezuela and nobody owns Venezuela. Donald Trump today threatened the president of the Bolivarian Republican of Venezuela with death."
The bitter standoff with the US comes as Maduro struggles to cope with political and economic problems in Venezuela which has been rocked by pro- and anti-government protests and clashes. Millions are suffering from chronic food shortages and cannot afford basic medicines due to the economic crisis in the oil-rich nation. Opponents squarely blame the 18-year rule of socialists for the dire situation.