"In this world where there still are empires who fight to control territory, riches and people, there is no respect for the weak," Maduro said. "Respect is given to those who have morale, to those who make themselves respected."
Maduro narrowly beat opposition leader Henrique Capriles in an April 14 election that Capriles has refused to accept, alleging Maduro stole the vote through fraud, voter intimidation and abuse of public resources.
The president also is under pressure to preserve unity within his own ranks, amid reports of an internal power struggle in the Chavista movement. Adding to his woes, the economy is faltering despite having vast oil resources, with soaring inflation and shortages of food and basic necessities, including toilet paper, testing the patience of citizens.