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Venezuela denies being threat in letter to Americans

March 17, 2015

Venezuela took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times Tuesday to tell the American people that Caracas was not a threat and to demand that President Barack Obama abolish sanctions.

The open letter from the Venezuelan foreign ministry to the US people ran on page seven of America’s most prestigious newspaper and appealed directly to “our American brothers and sisters.”

“Venezuela is not a threat,” it began.

Obama on March 9 ordered new sanctions against Venezuelan officials involved in cracking down on the opposition, provoking Caracas to recall its envoy to charge d’affairs to Washington.

“Never before in the history of our nations, has a president of the United States attempted to govern Venezuelans by decree,” read the open letter, marked up by the Times as an advertisement.

“It is a tyrannical and imperial order and it pushes us back into the darkest days of the relationship between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean,” it added.

Leftist regional governments, many of whom receive critical economic aid from Caracas, have lept to Venezuela’s defense in the deepening row, worsening already fraught US-Venezuela relations.

The letter demanded that Obama abolish the order which imposed the sanctions, and that the US government “immediately cease hostile actions” and retract “libelous and defamatory statements.”

“We alert our American brothers and sisters, lovers of justice and freedom, of the illegal aggression committed by your government on your behalf,” it continued.

A senior US official stressed last week that the sanctions would have “no direct effect” on the Venezuelan oil sector, of which the United States is the biggest consumer.

The two countries have lacked ambassadors in each other’s capitals since 2010, and two years after the death of leftist firebrand Hugo Chavez, his hand-picked successor, President Nicolas Maduro has ramped up anti-US rhetoric as the economy has worsened.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.