CARACAS, Venezuela — President Nicolas Maduro celebrated the start to a second term as Venezuela’s leader Thursday, but his world got smaller as countries seized upon the inauguration to cut back diplomatic ties, reject his legitimacy and label him a dictator.

Once among Latin America’s wealthiest countries, Venezuela is enduring a historic crisis after two decades of socialist rule, with residents struggling to afford basic goods as inflation soars, driving mass migration.

Maduro’s second six-year term extends the country’s socialist revolution amid widespread complaints that he has stripped the country of its last vestiges of democracy.

Seventeen Latin American countries, the United States and Canada denounced Maduro’s government as illegitimate in a measure adopted Thursday.

Maduro rejected the accusation, vowing to continue the legacy of the late President Hugo Chavez, and accused the United States of trying to ignite unrest through its increasing economic sanctions.

“Venezuela is the center of a world war led by the North American imperialists and its allies,” he declared in a speech after his swearing-in. “They have tried to convert a normal inauguration into a world war.”

Maduro, a 56-year-old former bus driver and Chavez’s hand-picked successor, took the helm of government after narrowly winning election following Chavez’s 2013 death. He denies being a dictator and often accuses President Trump of leading an economic war against Venezuela that is destroying the country.

DISPUTED ELECTION

In May, Maduro declared victory following an election that his political opponents and many foreign nations consider illegitimate because popular opponents were banned from running and the largest anti-government parties boycotted the race.

On Thursday, the Organization of American States voted not to recognize the legitimacy of Maduro’s second term, adopting a resolution presented by Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, the United States, Paraguay and Peru. Venezuela’s ambassador to the OAS, Samuel Moncada, denounced the move as “a hostile act … against the will of our nation.”

Paraguay went a step further, severing diplomatic ties. Peru also called home its top diplomat from Caracas in protest and banned 100 members of Maduro’s administration from entering the country. Argentina suspended Venezuelan diplomatic and official passports and banned high-ranking members of Maduro’s administration from entering.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the United States would keep up pressure in support of the Venezuelan people.

“It is time for Venezuelan leaders to make a choice,” Pompeo said. “Now is the time to convince the Maduro dictatorship that the moment has arrived for democracy to return to Venezuela.”

‘A MOCKERY OF DEMOCRACY’

Argentine President Mauricio Macri also denounced Maduro, saying he lacks the authenticity won through honest elections despite the elaborate inauguration ceremony.

“Nicolas Maduro today is making a mockery of democracy,” Macri said on Twitter. “Venezuelans know it, the world knows it. Venezuela lives under a dictatorship.”

Most countries from Europe and Latin American didn’t send representatives to the swearing-in.

Presidents Miguel Diaz-Canel of Cuba, Evo Morales of Bolivia and Anatoli Bibilov of a breakaway province of Georgia were among the few foreign leaders who attended the ceremony at the country’s Supreme Court.

Venezuela, which sits atop the world’s largest oil reserves, produced 3.5 million barrels of crude daily when Chavez took power. Output has plummeted to less than a third of that.

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