Venezuela's Maduro warns of 'diplomatic measures' against LatAm critics

Venezuela's Maduro warns of 'diplomatic measures' against LatAm critics

"I swear to construct socialism of the 21st century", Mr Maduro said as he was inaugurated by the loyalist head of the Venezuelan supreme court.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in to a second term Thursday amid worldwide calls for him to step down and a devastating economic crisis.

"No authoritarian and repressive government falls just because its opponents - weak and disorganized - demand it".

The ceremony contrasted with the harsh realities that face the former bus driver turned socialist leader, including hyperinflation, severe food and medicine shortages and an exodus of millions of citizens.

In his inaugural address, Maduro said that his victory marked "step of peace for our country".

"That's the rallying cry of our revolution to the peoples and governments of the world".

Maduro remained squarely in power. "Now is the time to convince the Maduro dictatorship that the moment has arrived for democracy to return to Venezuela".

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"Those who refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Venezuela's institutions will be given a reciprocal and opportune response, we'll act very firmly", said Maduro, who has the support of the military and the controversial Constitutional Assembly that he created previous year to bypass parliament. Flanked by the military's top commanders, Maduro strolled through a courtyard filled with thousands of uniformed troops.

Mr Maduro told reporters previous year that the USA was plotting to kill him and topple his government, but did not produce any evidence. Internal polling demonstrates that the most popular option for political change is a negotiated solution, though this is unlikely given that an organised opposition movement has thus far failed to precipitate change.

Even as he was sworn in, the United States said it would not recognise Maduro as president, and vowed to increase the pressure on a regime it brands a dictatorship. He blames an "economic war" led by the United States and local opposition adversaries for the country's woes.

The May 2018 polls were marred by an opposition boycott and vote-rigging claims.

A day earlier, Maduro warned that his country was facing a coup attempt ordered by the Donald Trump administration and the so-called Lima Group, the anti-Venezuelan organization founded in 2016 and includes 14 American states who are led by right-wing governments. President Mario Abdo Benitez said his country "in the exercise of its constitutional powers and national sovereignty, adopts the decision to break diplomatic relations with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela".

"While the frozen assets stolen from a country's treasury would under normal circumstances be returned to that country, the kleptocratic nature of the Venezuelan regime makes it impossible to ensure that the funds would go to the benefit of the Venezuelan public", the report says. Hundreds of officials gathered inside the court's chambers cheered Maduro.

"We applaud the initiative by the new National Assembly leadership to work with the worldwide community to recover these and other stolen funds and to use them to relieve the suffering of Venezuela's people".

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