Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro remained defiant during a nationally televised speech Monday, calling a recent decision by banking giant Citibank to close Venezuela’s national accounts an “inquisition” by U.S. President Barack Obama.
"Citibank, with no warning or communication, says that it is going to close the Central Bank and Bank of Venezuela account. That is what you call a financial blockade," Maduro said during the televised remarks.
He said the accounts were used to make payments to the United States and other countries, but even the account closures and the recent shuttering of a Kimberly-Clark factory will not stop the country from progressing.
"Do you think they are going to stop us by putting in place a financial blockade? No, ladies and gentlemen, nobody stops Venezuela. With Citibank or without it, we are moving forward. With Kimberly or without, we are moving."
Kimberly-Clark, a U.S.-based health product producer, announced Saturday that it would cease operations at its Venezuelan factory, which made diapers and facial tissues, because it was impossible for it to buy raw materials and because of rapid inflation.
Just hours before Maduro’s speech Monday, the Venezuelan government announced that it would seize the factory and restart production within hours.
Venezuela, once an oil-producing giant, has been hard-hit by the recent downturn in oil prices and mismanagement of its state-led economy has resulted in shortages of food and other consumer goods.
Other major corporations including, Bridgestone, General Mills and Proctor & Gamble have already halted or cut back production in Venezuela.