U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the Trump administration is closely watching the political situation in Venezuela, accusing the democratically-elected government of President Nicolas Maduro of silencing the opposition on a day when rival demonstrations for and against the revolutionary government took place.
"We are concerned that the government of Maduro is violating its own constitution and is not allowing the opposition to ... organize in a way that expresses the views of the Venezuelan people," Tillerson told a news conference. "We are concerned about that situation. We're watching it closely and working with others ... to communicate those concerns."
Tillerson added that the U.S. is working particularly through the OAS to communicate its concerns to Venezuela.
"The world and Venezuela are deeply concerned about the recent US-launched bombs on Syria and Afghanistan," Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said in response to the statements.
The remarks come a day after the U.S. State Department issued a statement warning the South American country, "Those responsible for the criminal repression of peaceful democratic activity ... and for gross violations of human rights, will be held individually accountable for their actions by ... the international community."
In response to the statement and other events, Maduro warned on Tuesday night, "The U.S. government, the State Department has given the green light, the approval for a coup process to intervene in Venezuela"
Maduro said that security forces had arrested an “armed commando group sent by the opposition in order to attack the mobilization called by the right-wing for Wednesday to generate violence and deaths in the country.” An investigation has been opened to determine who is behind the plan.
According to the Venezuelan leader, the U.S. government wrote up a coup scenario for opposition leader Julio Borges. The “scenario” Maduro referred to consists in generating violence and deaths and then blaming the Venezuelan government for allegedly attacking political opponents.
“No more coups in Venezuela, no more plots,” said Maduro, adding that he activated a public security plan to maintain order.
In the State Department statement titled, "Non-Violence and Accountability During Protests in Venezuela," the U.S. also called for Venezuela "to hold prompt elections." It is not clear if it was referring to regional elections that the government agreed to in the Vatican-backed dialogue process with the opposition or to general elections.
OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, in an unprecedented move, has called for general elections in the country even though Maduro's presidential term officially ends in 2019.
Almagro, along with the U.S., Canada and Mexico led a campaign for Venezuela to be suspended from the regional organization, threatening to invoke the "Democratic Charter." However, the illegal efforts have so far not met with success.