Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro ridiculed a two-day meeting in Quito aimed at finding solutions to the Venezuela refugee crisis. “It is a joke and farce and a preparation to invade my country,” he said on Monday, adding that the meeting is being orchestrated by the United States.
“The ultimate goal of our enemies is to justify an international intervention to steal our oil,” Maduro said.
Representatives from 13 countries will resume their meeting today at the presidential palace in hopes of developing a regional strategy to deal with hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who have left the country due economic hardship and violence. According to the United Nations, more than 2.3 million have fled Venezuela since 2014.
“There is a nefarious plan against the people of Venezuela,” Maduro said. “It is a campaign of hatred, persecution, and xenophobic contempt against all of us. We are prepared for an invasion if they decide to bring one.”
In his comments, Maduro announced the establishment of an “air bridge” to bring Venezuelans home. “This will be a massive humanitarian effort by air to return our people to the homeland, to remove them from the humiliation they suffer in other countries.”
Two weeks ago Maduro said that Venezuelans are being forced to clean toilets to survive in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. “If they come home they will be treated with dignity,” he said.