CARACAS -- Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday ordered his Oil Minister, Eulogio Del Pino, who also serves as president of the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), to sue the owners of a Venezuelan newspaper "directed from Miami" for "disseminatating false information" about the oil company.
"I have given the order for violating the constitution and forming part of a campaign to destroy PDVSA's financial and development possibilities as part of a dirty campaign against Venezuela," said Maduro during a cadena - a broadcast that must be carried by every radio and television channel in the country -- from a medical graduation ceremony in Caracas with both a Cuba and Venezuela flag behind him.
The Venezuelan leader did not name the newspaper he described as "garbage" and said that it had a small issue of "just two thousand" copies. Rafael Poleo, who runs El Nuevo Pais and Zeta, has said that it may be his newspaper group. He and his daughter journalist Patricia Poleo live in exile.
Venezuela and PDVSA must pay $1.8 billion this month and $3 billion next month in debt interest and maturities.
Maduro said he will not tolerate "continuing to conspire with lies to harm Venezuela."
According to Maduro, newspaper owners are part of the campaign that is being promoted against his government.
""They're dastardly and they want to destroy PDVSA and the country. They believe that from beneath the ruins of Venezuela, they will come to rule again, but never in life will the bourgeoisie govern this country. Imperialism will never rule this country in a thousand years," he declared.
After making this announcement, Del Pino posted a message on his Twitter account and reiterated that he was "initiating legal action against the newspaer inventing outrages against PDVSA."
Maduro repeatedly blames an "economic war", "the Empire" and a "media campaign" for the destruction of Venezuela.
Venezuela's economy has collapsed over 18% over the last 2 years, according to the IMF. Inflation is running at over 600% and there are widespread shortages of everything, including food and medicine.
Por instrucciones del Pdte. Nicolás Maduro iniciaremos medidas legales contra información de prensa que inventa infamias contra PDVSA.