Chavez: U.S Threats to Sanction Latin America Are “Absurd”

Caracas, January 17th 2011 ( – Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has criticised the U.S. State Department’s “absurd” decision to threaten Latin American countries with sanctions should they engage in trade with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Chavez made the comments following a State Department briefing last week, in which the body’s spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, warned Latin American countries that they would be liable to U.S. sanctions if they were to use Iranian banks or purchase Iranian oil.

”If [decisions behind closed doors] are going to take those countries in the direction of buying more Iranian crude oil and making more use of the banks, then they make themselves vulnerable to U.S. sanctions,” said Nuland, who added that the countries in question wouldn’t have “any doubt that this is not something that the U.S. would think was helpful to the overall global policy”.

“We have…with a number of these [Latin American] countries…difficulties that go well beyond this [and] that need to be worked through,” concluded Nuland.

Presidents Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Raul Castro (Cuba), Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua) and Hugo Chavez all met with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week as he conducted a short tour of Latin America. During his visit to Caracas the Iranian President signed various bilateral agreements with Venezuela in industry, science and technology, and politics.

Addressing viewers on state television channel VTV, Chavez criticised Nuland’s statements and cited them as proof of continued U.S. neo-colonialism in the region.

“This decision is an absurdity…it’s the same absurd history of the U.S., trying to look at us like their back yard and wanting to keep controlling the destinies of Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador and the whole of Latin America,” said the Venezuelan president.

“We are free countries…The United States will end up being what Mao (Tse Tung) said, they will become a paper empire and we; steel tigers,” he added.

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