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Maduro gave a speech before supporters on the grounds of the Miraflores Palace in Caracas today. During the speech, Maduro said that the sanctions placed upon seven Venezuelan officials by the United States earlier this week “are the fault” of imprisoned opposition leaders, specifically Leopoldo Lopez. Maduro insinuated that Lopez was a U.S. agent, and called him a murderer:

The United States accuses us of being a threat because Venezuelan justice [stopped] their main destabilizing agent in Venezuela (…) They declared Venezuela a threat thanks to [Leopoldo Lopez] a repeat murderer who was pardoned by Chavez.

Maduro also thanked Russia for expressing her support for Venezuela, and called Vladimir Putin the head of a “peaceful, non-aggressive” Russia. Maduro also said:

From China to Russia and even Patagonia, the whole world supports Venezuela and her struggle for peace, sovereignty and independence in the land of Bolivar.

Chaderton Speaks on “Empty Skull” Controversy

Venezuelan Ambassador to the Organization of American States Roy Chaderton issued a kind of apology today after widespread condemnation of the comments he made on a television show earlier this week. Speaking in an interview on Zurda Konducta, Chaderton joked that a sniper’s bullet tearing through an opposition supporter’s head would fly straight through the other side, since their skulls are “empty”.

During a radio interview today, Chaderton addressed the remarks, saying:

My statement was taken out of context, and because of that de-contextualization, a scandal has arisen. They’ve even asked [OAS Secretary General] Insulza to remove me from my post, something that he can’t do.

Chaderton stressed that the point he was trying to make that anyone can be the victim of a sniper, and that the comments about opposition protesters being murdered was a bit of “black humour”:

What I wanted to say by that is that, coming back to 2015, is that in case of an invasion by the United States – because some, irresponsibly, feel happy or believe that they will survive an invasion – bombs from the United States and its snipers will take with them whomever they find, friend or foe. That was my warning. I added a bit of black humour at the end, which might have been a mistake, but they can also be the victims of the violence from the powers with whom they sympathize.

Chaderton was asked by the radio host if he believed he should apologize for the comments, to which he said:

I don’t have a problem with that. If I made people good-intentioned people uncomfortable, I will gladly apologize. I don’t have any problems with that, but I want to stress the meaning of my comments, which was the most important thing: to warn my opposition compatriots.

Some of the criticism levelled against Chaderton included his use of the word escualido to refer to opposition supporters. The word is derogatory. When asked if he thought it was O.K. to use the word, Chaderton said:

The term escualido depends on the circumstances. I think that an escualido is someone who doesn’t think, or uses logic, and who also carries around a lot of hatred, [someone who] could be considered irredeemable.

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