Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accused the Trump administration of seeking to assassinate him as relations strain between the ideologically opposed nations.
In a televised broadcast on Thursday night, Maduro – a former bus driver and union leader – said the United States had asked the government in neighbouring Colombia to kill him.
“They have given the order from the White House that Maduro be killed,” said the president, flanked by workers. He vowed: “they will not even touch a single hair of mine”.
Maduro did not give an explanation for his accusations and did not provide any evidence. Venezuela’s information ministry did not respond to a request for further information.
Asked about the remarks, the White House did not immediately comment.
Venezuela’s opposition says Maduro lobs ludicrous accusations at enemies to deflect from his own incompetence.
Almost two million Venezuelans have fled the ailing oil-rich nation since 2015, driven out by brutal food and medicine shortages, hyperinflation, and violent crime. Washington has imposed sanctions on Venezuela, denouncing Maduro as a dictator who has quashed human rights and triggered an economic meltdown.
On Wednesday, the White House accused Maduro’s government of involvement in the death of a jailed Venezuelan politician whom authorities say killed himself, but whom opposition parties say was murdered.
Maduro contends he is the victim of an “economic war” led by US-backed adversaries. He denies limiting political freedoms, insisting Washington-supported opposition leaders have plotted assassination attempts and sought to overthrow him through violent street protests.