Maduro Pauses Anti-Trump Rant to Urge Americans to Keep Buying Oil

Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro vowed to continue selling oil to the United States on Friday soon after severing diplomatic ties with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, claiming Caracas’ feud is with Washington, not the American people.

The United States is Venezuela’s top oil importer. Venezuela is among the top five U.S. petroleum source countries.

Speaking to international reporters in Venezuela, Maduro said:

We will continue selling the oil they [the U.S.] demand and we estimate U.S. investments will fuel production growth. In Venezuela, we are planning to boost oil production to sell more oil in the United States. The United States is more than just [President] Donald Trump. Donald Trump will come to pass. … I have broken political and diplomatic relations with the Donald Trump government. I have not cut ties with the U.S.

Maduro claimed he is open to dialogue with the Trump administration.

“I wish he had the conscience and the courage not to make the same mistakes as [former U.S. President Barack] Obama and start a new era with Venezuela,” he said.

His comments, however, came amid tensions between Venezuela and the United States over the Trump administration’s recognition of opposition-led National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

Several nations – including Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia – have followed in the steps of the Trump administration in opposing Maduro as president. Guaidó declared himself the president Wednesday.

Maduro stressed that Venezuela is ready to continue selling oil to the United States, noting, “We will continue selling everything that has to be sold … if they want to buy oil, we will sell oil. If they do not want to buy … oil, we will sell them elsewhere. Simple as that.”

In an apparent bid to maintain cash-strapped Venezuela’s economic relationship with the United States intact, Maduro argued that he is not anti-U.S., but rather anti-Trump, claiming he is an “admirer”’ of the American people.

“I am anti-imperialism, but I am an admirer of the U.S., and I love the United States. We have many relations with the U.S.,” Maduro said, adding:

Our relations with the United States continue and will flourish today more than ever with the universities, the trade unions, with social movements, the public opinion, the commercial sectors, the energy sectors, and the economic sectors. Now we are looking for expanding our relationship. The United States is much more than Donald Trump.

Socialist economic policies that began under the late dictator Hugo Chavez —Maduro’s predecessor — have plunged Venezuela into chaos, triggering a financial and humanitarian crisis in one of the top oil-producing countries in the world.

Venezuela’s so-called socialist revolution has engulfed what was once one of Latin America’s most prosperous societies in political and social unrest.

“Almost 10% of Venezuela’s 31 million-strong population have fled overseas; of those who remain, nearly 90% live in poverty,” the Guardian reported last month.

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