Venezuela has “terrible chaos” following a declaration of independence on Tuesday, with President Nicolás Maduro warning of the country’s “existential crisis” if it does not declare independence from the United States within 90 days.
The ruling Socialist Party and the opposition accuse Maduro of orchestrating the vote with the purpose of provoking a US military response and threatening to break away from the Organization of American States, the UN body which has ruled the country since it gained independence in 1958.
Maduro said the referendum is illegal and illegitimate, calling it a “dangerous experiment” aimed at a US invasion.
He said the country has no sovereignty over the islands it occupied after the 1959 US-backed coup that ousted former president Fidel Castro.
“They’re here, they’re not on the islands they claimed, they’ve violated their oaths, they’ll be there,” he said.
“We are in the depths of a deep crisis.
If we don’t declare independence tomorrow, then it’s the worst crisis Venezuela has faced in decades.”
On Monday, Maduro said he will declare independence if the people of the Caribbean nation agree.
“If the majority of the people agree, then tomorrow we’ll declare independence,” he told reporters in Caracas.
“There is no alternative.
Venezuela has been plunged into political turmoil since Maduro was elected president in late 2015, with a US-led military coup and a deepening economic crisis threatening to unravel the countrys social fabric.
The US, in turn, has accused the country of seeking to overthrow Maduro.
The referendum was the first step in Maduro’s plan to dissolve the Organization for the Organization, or OAS, the body that enforces international sanctions on Venezuela, and establish a socialist state in which people control all economic, social and political spheres.
The referendum was called to ensure the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people.
The OAS has accused Maduro of using the referendum as an excuse to push through economic reforms that have plunged the country into recession and have left millions homeless.
The United States has called on Venezuela to allow international monitors to verify that the vote is legitimate.