Venezuela: US sanctions threat against LA 'absurd'

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has criticised the US State Department’s “absurd” decision to threaten Latin American countries with sanctions should they engage in trade with Iran.

Chavez made the comments on the state VTV channel after State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland warned Latin American countries they would be liable to US sanctions if they were to use Iranian banks or purchase Iranian oil.

Presidents Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Raul Castro (Cuba), Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua) and Hugo Chavez all met with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week as he conducted a short tour of Latin America. During his visit to Caracas the Iranian President signed various bilateral agreements with Venezuela in industry, science and technology, and politics.

Chavez criticised Nuland’s statements as proof of continued US neo-colonialism in the region.

“This decision is an absurdity,” Chavez said. “It’s the same absurd history of the US, trying to look at us like their backyard and wanting to keep controlling the destinies of Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador and the whole of Latin America.”

“We are free countries.”

[Abridged from Venezuela Analysis.]