Venezuela announces it has “ended” steps towards restoring diplomatic ties with the US, after comments made by Samantha Power, who was nominated as the next envoy to the UN.
Samantha Power said this week she would seek to combat what she called the “crackdown on civil society” in countries including Venezuela.
She was speaking at a US Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
The remarks prompted an angry response from Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro.
“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela hereby ends the process… of finally normalizing our diplomatic relations,” said Venezuela’s foreign ministry in a statement.
It objected to Samantha Power’s “interventionist agenda”, noting that her “disrespectful opinions” were later endorsed by the state department, “contradicting in tone and in content” earlier statements by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Venezuela announces it has “ended” steps towards restoring diplomatic ties with the US, after comments made by Samantha Power
Relations between the US and Venezuela have been strained in recent years. They last had ambassadors in each other’s capitals in 2010.
Washington angered Caracas by backing the Venezuelan opposition’s demand for a full recount of the presidential election in April to replace Hugo Chavez, who died in March.
Hugo Chavez’s anointed successor, Nicolas Maduro, won the vote by less than two percentage points.
In June, the two countries had tentatively agreed to work towards improving their strained relations, after Venezuela freed and deported a US filmmaker who had been held on conspiracy charges.
During a regional summit in Guatemala, John Kerry said he had agreed with Foreign Minister Elias Jaua on an “ongoing, continuing dialogue” in order to “establish a more constructive and positive relationship”.
He said the US wanted to “begin to change the dialogue between our countries and hopefully quickly move the appointments of ambassadors between our nations”.
Elias Jaua said at the time that for Venezuela it was important to build a relationship based on the principles of mutual respect and no interference in internal affairs.
Nicaragua and Venezuela have offered political asylum to US fugitive Edward Snowden.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said his country would give asylum Edward Snowden, who is believed to be holed up in a transit area of Moscow airport.
Meanwhile Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said his country would do so “if circumstances permit”.
WikiLeaks said Edward Snowden had applied to six additional countries on Friday.
The whistleblowing website said it would not name the countries “due to attempted US interference”.
Edward Snowden, 30, has already asked 21 countries for asylum, most of whom have turned down his request.
But even if a country accepted the American’s application, getting there could prove difficult as the European airspace could be closed to any aircraft suspected of carrying the fugitive.
Earlier this week, several European countries reportedly refused to allow the Bolivian president’s jet to cross their airspace on its way back from Moscow – apparently because of suspicions that Edward Snowden was on board.
President Nicolas Maduro made his announcement in a speech on Venezuela’s Independence Day.
“As head of state and government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young US citizen Edward Snowden so he can come to the fatherland of Bolivar and Chavez to live away from the imperial North American persecution,” Nicolas Maduro said.
The US wants to prosecute Edward Snowden over the leaking of thousands of classified intelligence documents.
Nicaragua and Venezuela have offered political asylum to US fugitive Edward Snowden
Earlier Daniel Ortega said Nicaragua had received an application at its embassy in Moscow.
“We are open, respectful of the right to asylum, and it is clear that if circumstances permit it, we would receive Snowden with pleasure and give him asylum here in Nicaragua,” Agence France-Presse quoted the Nicaraguan president as saying.
Daniel Ortega was a fierce opponent of the US during his first period as Nicaragua’s president in the 1980s, after the left-wing Sandinista movement came to power.
Bolivia, which had also suggested it might offer Edward Snowden asylum, saw its presidential plane barred from European airspace on Tuesday.
There was speculation Edward Snowden was on the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales back from Russia to La Paz earlier this week.
“Edward Snowden has applied to another six countries for asylum,” tweeted WikiLeaks, which has been helping the former CIA contractor.
“They will not be named at this time due to attempted US interference.”
The US has been blamed for being behind the decision by France, Portugal, Italy and Spain to close its airspace to Bolivia’s president, whose plane was grounded in Austria for 13 hours as a result.
Earlier on Friday, Spain’s foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo admitted he and the other European countries had been told that Edward Snowden was on board – but refused to say who gave out the information.
He denied Spain had closed its airspace to the presidential plane, explaining that the delay in Austria meant the flight permit had expired and needed to be renewed.
His comment is the first official recognition by the European states that the incident with Evo Morales’ plane was connected with the Snowden affair.
It has been widely condemned by President Morales and several other South American nations, who were critical of the US.
Evo Snowden arrived in the Moscow airport from Hong Kong last month.
He revealed himself to be responsible for the leaking of classified US intelligence documents that revealed a vast surveillance programme of phone and web data.
The documents have also led to allegations that both the UK and French intelligence agencies run similarly vast data collection operations, and the US has been eavesdropping on official EU communications.
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has unveiled a 3-D reconstruction of the face of Simon Bolivar, who died in 1830 after leading the fight against Spanish colonial rule in the region.
The computer-generated image was created by artists studying Simon Bolivar’s remains.
It looks remarkably like known portraits of the South American liberation hero.
Two years ago Hugo Chavez ordered that the remains should be exhumed.
Simon Bolivar was widely thought to have died from tuberculosis aged 47.
But Hugo Chavez had a theory that Simon Bolivar had been poisoned in revenge for his fight against the Spanish empire.
Forensic tests were inconclusive.
Hugo Chavez has unveiled a 3-D reconstruction of the face of Simon Bolivar
The 3-D image was unveiled at Miraflores presidential palace in the capital, Caracas, on the 229th anniversary of Simon Bolivar’s birth.
“Bolivar is the fight that does not end, he is born every day in ourselves, in his people, in the children, in the fight for life and for social justice,” said Hugo Chavez, a big admirer of the Venezuelan-born national hero.
“He was, is and will be one of the greats of humanity, a true giant of the human cause.”
Simon Bolivar’s remains will reside in a new mausoleum built in central Caracas. It was built with marble imported from South Africa and cost around $78 million.
Many cities in South America have monuments honoring the man known as The Liberator.
He began his fight against the Spanish empire in the early 1800s and after independence became the president of Gran Colombia, which covers much of modern Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador and northern Peru.
A few years later, the Republic of Bolivia was created. Simon Bolivar became one of the few men to have a country named after h
President Hugo Chavez’s fascination with Simon Bolivar has been evident throughout his presidency.
In 1999, within a year of taking power he changed the country’s name from plain “Venezuela” to “the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela”.
Hugo Chavez claims to be a political successor to Simon Bolivar, who fought for the establishment of a democratic state for people in South America.
President Hugo Chavez says his form of socialism is a continuation of these principles.
He may not be too impressed by the news that his opponent in this year’s elections, Henrique Capriles, is allegedly related to Simon Bolivar.
A Venezuelan genealogist claims Henrique Capriles is the descendent of Simon Bolivar’s illegitimate brother Juan Agustin.