Maduro asks pope help, hails Russia
CARACAS - Agence France-PresseVenezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called Aug. 22 for Pope Francis's support against a "military threat" from the United States, as international pressure mounts over the deadly political crisis Caracas is facing.
“May the pope help us prevent Trump from sending troops to invade Venezuela," Maduro told a news conference. "I ask for the pope's help against the military threat from the United States."
Maduro has faced months of deadly mass protests by opponents who blame him for an economic crisis and are demanding elections to replace him.
International pressure has also grown, with US President Donald Trump even saying this month that the United States reserved the option of military intervention in the Venezuela crisis.
Maduro pointedly highlighted his alliance with Russia, which had rejected Trump's recent threat as "unacceptable."
The Venezuelan leader said he wanted to "keep strengthening the military cooperation agreement" between the two countries "for the sovereign defense of Venezuela."
Russia recently sold fighter jets and ground to air missiles to Venezuela.
"Venezuela has the full and absolute support of Russia," he said, adding that he would soon go to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Maduro has called for military drills next weekend as a show of strength after Trump's threat.
The United States has applied economic sanctions directly targeting Maduro.
He says the economic collapse that has dragged his country into crisis is a U.S.-backed conspiracy.