Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela accuses US secretary of state of 'murder'

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro Image copyright Reuters
Image caption President Nicolas Maduro says a destabilised Venezuela would have "unbearable consequences" for the US

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Elias Jaua has accused US Secretary of State John Kerry of inciting violence and called him a "murderer".

Mr Jaua was reacting to comments by Mr Kerry, who accused Venezuela of waging a "terror campaign against its own people" in its response to protests.

Venezuela has repeatedly accused the US of orchestrating the unrest, which already left 28 people dead.

The US argues Venezuela is using it as a scapegoat for its domestic problems.

On national television, Mr Jaua said he was not going to "tone down" his rhetoric following Mr Kerry's strong words on Thursday.

"Mr Kerry, we denounce you before the world. You are inciting violence in Venezuela, and we will denounce it in every part of the world. We denounce you as a murderer of the Venezuelan people," Mr Jaua said in Caracas.

'Not telling the truth'

"Every time we're about to isolate and reduce the violence, out comes Mr Kerry with a speech and immediately road blocks are reactivated in the mains spots of violence," he added.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Elias Jaua, said he would not tone down his rhetoric

While US State Departments' spokeswoman Marie Harf declined to comment on Mr Jaua's comments, she said the Venezuelan government was "not telling the truth" about the protests.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State John Kerry also said the Organization of American States (OAS), allies and neighbours should demand accountability of Venezuela over the protests.

"We are trying to find a way to get the [President Nicolas] Maduro government to end this terror campaign against his own people and to begin to, hopefully, respect human rights in an appropriate way", Mr Kerry told a committee in the US Congress.

American legislators say they are ready to impose sanctions on the oil-rich nation, although no decision has yet been taken on the matter.

President Nicolas Maduro, however, offered his American counterpart, Barack Obama, some advice on Friday.

"Let's hope that with two remaining years left [in his presidency], Mr Obama doesn't pass into history as the man who attacked Venezuela and filled it with violence," he told foreign reporters in the presidential palace in Caracas.

He also said the destabilisation of Venezuela would have "unbearable consequences" for the United States, bringing about "political instability in Latin America" and thousands of people to seek refuge in the richer neighbouring nation.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionA look back at the clashes over the past month

The protests started in the western states of Merida and Tachira at the beginning of February by disgruntled students, who demanded more security in the region.

The opposition says it will remain on the street protesting against Venezuela's high inflation, food shortages and violence levels.

But the government vowed to tackle the roadblocks and demanded that mayors from the opposition also take action to open up the streets.