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15 Jan, 2019 00:28

Maduro calls Bolsonaro ‘modern-day Hitler’ after Brazil lends support to opposition leader

Maduro calls Bolsonaro ‘modern-day Hitler’ after Brazil lends support to opposition leader

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has called right-wing Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro “a Hitler of the modern era.” Brazil openly backs the Venezuelan opposition and denounced Maduro’s inauguration last week as illegitimate.

The left-wing Venezuelan leader and Bolsonaro, who declared Brazil “liberated” from socialism, have not been on the best of terms, trading verbal blows and exchanging insults since Bolsonaro’s election in October.

Addressing members of his country’s Constituent Assembly on Monday, Maduro said that Brazil was “in the hands of a fascist.”

“Bolsonaro is a modern-day Hitler. He is. What he doesn't have is courage and his own decisions because he’s the puppet of a sect,” Maduro said. The Venezuelan leader was referring to evangelical Christians, a section of the electorate in which Bolsonaro, himself a Catholic, commands strong support.   

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The Constituent Assembly, called by Maduro to solve a deepening political crisis and draft a new constitution, replaced the opposition-controlled National Assembly as the country’s supreme power in August 2017. Critics of the Maduro government, both in Latin America and the US, denounced the body’s election, mostly ignored by the opposition, as a power grab. Maduro’s re-election in May was branded “illegitimate” and “undemocratic” by the US as well and saw a relatively low turnout, amid opposition calls to boycott the “fraudulent” vote.

Last week, Maduro was sworn in for a second term before the Supreme Court and not the National Assembly, which spawned a new wave of condemnation and criticism from the West and a dozen Latin American nations, including Brazil, which has been cozying up to the US lately.

Maduro, however, received support from Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua, whose leaders attended the inauguration ceremony, snubbed by the majority of its neighbors.

The National Assembly’s President, Juan Guaidó, declared a state of emergency, calling the parliament Venezuela’s “only real and legitimate power” while urging the army and foreign allies to help reclaim it.

In a statement on Friday, the Brazilian Foreign Ministry said that it “welcomes” Guaidó's intention to assume presidential powers, slamming Maduro's new term as “illegitimate.”

Maduro and Bolsonaro have not minced words when calling each other names. While Bolsonaro refers to his Venezuelan counterpart as nothing less than “dictator,” Maduro dubbed the right-wing “tropical Trump” a “fascist” when he was being vested with presidential authority before the Supreme Court.

The new Brazilian government has made it clear that it would like to see Maduro ousted. In December, Brazil's now foreign minister Ernesto Araújo tweeted that “all of the world’s countries must stop supporting him and come together to liberate Venezuela.”

Meanwhile, Bolsonaro, who has elicited praise from US officials and exchanged courtesies with US President Donald Trump on Twitter, recently announced that he is open to the idea of hosting a US military base in Brazil, while also expressing concerns over joint military exercises between Venezuela and Russia.

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