Venezuela's Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez accused the United States Wednesday of laying the groundwork of a Cuba-style blockade, while slamming the U.S. State Department's second in command for being “rude.”
“They are considering a financial and commercial blockade, an economic blockade, and the entire country (of Venezuela) should know this,” said Rodriguez during an interview with broadcaster Venevision.
Rodriguez said the latest round of U.S. sanctions pose a major threat to “all Venezuelans,” dismissing claims from Washington that the sanctions will only affect a small group of government officials.
“What has happened is of monumental gravity, like nothing ever seen in the history of our country,” Rodriguez said. However, she said she believed the latest sanctions are the first in a series of planned economic measures aimed at tightening the screws on Venezuela.
The latest U.S. sanctions target a list of seven high ranking Venezuelan officials with travel bans and financial freezes. Under an executive order, U.S. President Barack Obama also declared Venezuela “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
State Department Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson took to Twitter to defend the move, arguing, "The goal of these sanctions is to persuade the government of Venezuela to change its ways, not to remove that government."
Rodriguez hit back by stating, “In a rude and petulant manner, Mrs. Jacobson tells us what to do.”
“You need manners to deal with people and with countries,” she added.
Earlier in the day State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki also came under fire during a press conference when she made similar claims that the U.S. isn't seeking to topple the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
“As a matter of long-standing policy, the United States does not support political transitions by nonconstitutional means. Political transitions must be democratic, constitutional, peaceful and legal,” she told reporters.
One reporter responded by asking Psaki, “How long-standing is that? I would—in particular in South and Latin America, that is not a long-standing practice.”
The United States government endorsed a coup government that briefly ousted Maduro's predecessor, Hugo Chavez in 2002.
Another journalist at the press conference also hit out at Psaki's comments, stating, “Recently in Kiev, whatever we say about Ukraine, whatever, the change of government in the beginning of last year was unconstitutional, and yet you supported it.”
Psaki responded by labeling the latter comment “ludicrous.”