Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro sworn in 2nd term as president

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been sworn in for a second term amid international calls for him to step down and a devastating economic crisis, but with some long-time friends in attendance both from abroad and at home.

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

The US and 13 other countries in the Americas said last week that they would not recognize Maduro’s presidency.

The socialist leader, 56, said his new six-year term was a “step of peace for our country.”

Thousands of spectators gathered for the ceremony in Caracas, including Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, and president of Bolivia Evo Morales.

Security forces were stationed in the capital and other cities, as opposition groups called for pot-banging and the sounding of horns in protest during the ceremony.

“Venezuela is at the center of a world war led by the United States imperialism and its satellite countries,” Maduro said in a speech.

Maduro credited his allies, some who have also faced censure from the U.S.

“There are problems in Venezuela, like in any other country. But we, Venezuelans, have to sort it out, without foreign intervention,” he added.

The Venezuelan leader also said the political right in Latin America has been “contaminated,” citing the rise to power of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, whom he termed a “fascist”.

The re-inauguration took place before the country’s Supreme Court instead of its opposition-run Congress, which has been stripped of its powers since Maduro’s ruling Socialist Party lost control of it in 2016.

Minutes after Maduro was sworn in, Paraguayan President Mario Abdo tweeted that he was cutting diplomatic ties with Venezuela and immediately withdrawing his country’s diplomats from Caracas.

The Organization of American States also approved a resolution declaring his second term “illegitimate.”

Maduro was first elected in 2013, succeeding Hugo Chavez who died of cancer after governing for 14 years.

Maduro’s second term will extend Venezuela’s socialist revolution amid widespread complaints that he has stripped Venezuela of its last vestiges of democracy.

Venezuela’s main opposition coalition said the election date had been changed to take advantage of disarray within opposition groups.

It also argued that some of the most promising candidates had been banned from standing or jailed, while many others had fled the country.

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