Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro: I Will Sue Obama in U.S. Court over Sanctions

President Nicolas Maduro Moros, of Venezuela, addresses the 2015 Sustainable Development Summit, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced last week he intends to sue the United States government in an American court over sanctions placed on his regime due to human rights violations in March.

“Venezuela will present a lawsuit in the United States for international illegality over the decree by Barack Obama that threatens Venezuela since March,” Maduro said on Thursday in a speech broadcast on state media, alleging that his sudden call to arms against President Obama’s executive decree was a result of the United States “reactivat[ing] the daily declarations against Venezuela.” Maduro compared the decree to the “sword of Damocles” and promised to file suit in an American court.

The Wall Street Journal notes that Maduro’s reference to renewed “declarations” followed remarks by under secretary of state candidate Thomas Shannon in which he said Washington was awaiting the results of Venezuela’s parliamentary elections in December before considering renewed action against the nation’s government.

Maduro, who has accused the Obama administration and Americans generally of a wide variety of conspiracies during his tenure following the death of socialist dictator Hugo Chávez, also accused the United States this week of causing “micro-earthquakes” in Latin America through the fracking industry. “They provoke micro-earthquakes in entire regions permanently now, every week,” he claimed, adding that fracking workers “contaminate underground water with chemicals.” He did not specify who was behind this plot.

Maduro has rekindled tensions between the United States and Venezuela over an executive order President Obama issued in March declaring Venezuela a “national security threat” and sanctioning a number of high-ranking police and military officials, preventing them from traveling to America. Shortly before President Obama issued the executive order, Maduro had issued a list of sanctioned American officials, accusing them of “terrorism,” which included former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. He also personally accused current Vice President Joe Biden of personally organizing a “coup” against his government.

The day after President Obama announced sanctions on Venezuela, Maduro claimed President Obama had planned military airstrikes over Caracas with American jets disguised as Venezuelan aircraft.

He followed the barrage of accusations with a signature campaign, vowing to personally hand President Obama a list of millions of signatures of Venezuelans demanding an end to the executive order. He failed to bring the signatures with him when meeting President Obama at the Summit of the Americas in April.

As of October, Maduro is facing accusations from a defecting prosecutor that he forces attorneys to fabricate evidence to ensure jail time for political opponents. Franklin Nieves, the prosecutor responsible for mounting a case against Popular Will opposition party leader Leopoldo López, defected to Miami this month and is now claiming Maduro personally ordered him to use false evidence against López. Nieves told CNN last week that he had no reason to believe López was guilty of charges of inciting crowds to violence during peaceful demonstrations against Maduro’s regime, and that he sorely regretted being part of the team that ensured he would receive an 18-year sentence for his transgressions.

López’s defense team has vowed to use Nieves’ public statements in its appeal, which has currently stalled, Venezuelan outlets report, because the court has run out of printer paper.