(TELESUR ENGLISH) – Venezuela’s Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said “the armed forces radically reject such deplorable remarks” by the U.S. secretary of state.
Venezuela’s Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino has slammed comments made by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who mused about the possibility of an internal military coup that would topple Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Flanked by high-ranking members of Venezuela’s military, Padrino said: “Members of the armed forces radically reject such deplorable remarks that constitute a vile act of interference… When you invite the armed forces to overthrow the government, you’re showing a lack of respect.”
Padrino then read an official statement expressing continued support for Maduro: “Many countries in the world have suffered from the long history of covert, clandestine operations, propaganda war, economic blockades and direct military interventions by the government of the United States of America.
“Senseless threats against Venezuela demonstrate, once again (that the U.S. government) has become the greatest agent of violence, discrimination, and humiliation in the world.”
On Thursday, Tillerson raised the prospect of a military coup against Maduro and seemingly praised past military dictatorships as “agents of change.”
“In the history of Venezuela and South American countries, it is often times that the military is the agent of change when things are so bad, and the leadership can no longer serve the people,” Tillerson said during a speech at the University of Texas.
Speaking ahead of a five-nation Latin America tour, the U.S. diplomat insisted the Trump administration was not advocating “regime change,” but suggested the Venezuelan leader could flee to ally Cuba.
“If the kitchen gets a little too hot for him, I am sure that he’s got some friends over in Cuba that could give him a nice hacienda on the beach and he could have a nice life over there.”
Tillerson’s six-day Latin American tour kicked off in Mexico City on Friday. He will also travel to Argentina, Peru and Colombia, with a final stopover in Jamaica on Feb. 7.