"Son of Chavez," Nicolás Maduro. Photo via Crhoy.

Outdoing reigning champion Donald Trump in the verbal vitriol game, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, has called President Macri a “fake”, a “thief” and a “bandit”, who won the 2015 election fraudulently and is rejected by “80%” of his people.

“Pay attention to how that fake and thief Mauricio Macri won, manipulating. How does he remain standing with only 20% support? According to surveys, there is 80% rejection of the thief Macri, that bandit Macri. We’ve been here for 18 years and have a solid popular base of support. He’s been in government barely more than a year and he’s already on his way out,” said Maduro to members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), according to Agencia EFE.

The fulminatory remarks were prompted by comments Macri made to Spanish media outlet El Pais last week. “Enough with euphemisms – Venezuela is not a democratic country,” said Macri, employing some of the strongest language yet in relation to Maduro’s administration.

Not friends
Not friends

 

In the interview, delivered before a trip to Spain, he also offered to “help” Venezuela recover from its economic travails, which he compared to what Argentina had experienced under the Presidency of CFK. “I know how the Venezuelan people are suffering…We will help them come out of his social, political and economic crisis where we can.”

The response of Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez was swift and punishing.

“Venezuela repudiates President Macri for his inappropriate attacks against the Venezuelan State,” she said in a twitterstorm last Friday. Going eye for an eye, she went on to call Macri a “failure rejected by his people,” who had “impoverishe[d]” his nation in “record time”. “Venezuela will never listen to the voices of the enemies of the Patria Grande,” concluded Rodriguez, who maintained the fire over the weekend, retweeting most of Cristina Kirchner’s barbs against Macri during last Friday’s press conference, as well as retweeting birthday wishes for Argentina’s former President.

 

Tensions between Macri and Maduro started brewing almost as soon as Macri – an avowed economic liberalist with a business-friendly outlook- entered office in December of 2015. At a Davos Press Conference in Switzerland in January 2015, Macri said that Venezuela “had distanced itself from human rights.”  Maduro retorted by calling Macri an “oligarch” and warning him not to “mess with Venezuela,” according to La Nacion.

Then in December of 2016, Macri, alongside Paraguay and Brazil, pushed to have Venezuela suspended from the Mercosur trading bloc.

Maduro described this action as a “coup” and Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez refused to recognize it – last December, she famously forced her way into a meeting between Mercosur members in Buenos Aires that she was not invited to.

Delcy Rodríguez arrives unannounced at Mercosur meeting in Buenos Aires. Photo Credit: AFP.
Delcy Rodríguez arrives unannounced at Mercosur meeting in Buenos Aires. Photo Credit: AFP.

 

What happens with the suspension remains to be seen. Today, the Parlasur General Committee resolved to reject the suspension of Venezuela, according to a statement issued by the Parlasur. That decision will now be reviewed by Mercosur’s Permanent Review Tribunal.

Macri’s stronger language in regards to Venezuela may have to do with his attempt to take on a more global role after President Trump made clear that the United States will be closing its borders. In the press conference with  El Pais, Macri, who has already travelled to Chile and Brazil this year in an attempt to foster greater links between the two big regional trading blocs of the region – the Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance – said that “we have a very open attitude and want to build bridges with as many countries as possible.”

But his comments have also been prompted by what the Guardian described as the fact that Venezuala is country “…standing on the edge of an economic and humanitarian abyss.”

Foreign Affairs magazine recently described Maduros’ government as a “full on dictatorship,” after it refused the opposition’s request for a referendum that would allow a popular vote of confidence on Maduro’s presidency. The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a fourteen-year prison sentence against political opposition leader, Leopoldo Luganes, has many claiming the judiciary is no longer independent, instead controlled by Maduro’s government. Meanwhile, daily life is, from all reports, difficult: Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates in the region, and recent reports have suggested that food shortages and skyrocketing inflation are causing Venezuelans to receive subpar nutrition.

However, if you check out Maduro or Rodríguez’s twitter account, the reality in Venezuela is different from what the “sepoys”, “oligarchs” and “enemies of the Patria Grande” claim. Maduro claims he is “constructing the Patria with revolutionary efficiency” and that the country can solve its own problem, without “interference” from foreign powers.