Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has lashed out at El Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, calling him a “traitor” who will be remembered in the history books as an imperialist lackey.
“It’s embarrassing to see how he cowers before imperialism, a person who had come into the presidency with hope for the Salvadoran people. But history is history. Bukele will not be saved by history. His place will be that of a traitor, a fighter for imperialism, it’s as simple as that,” Maduro said, speaking during a visit to Cuba on Sunday, his remarks quoted by local media.
Calling his counterpart an “imperialist stooge,” Maduro emphasised that the Central American country’s move to expel Venezuelan diplomats was not supported by Salvadorans. “No good-for-nothing, no imperialist stoogle like Bukele is going to separate the people of El Salvador and Venezuela,” he said.
Bukele took to Twitter to respond, demanding “respect” from Maduro in talking to “a democratically elected president, unlike you.” According to Bukele, his government has the support of 9 out of 10 Salvadorans, unlike Maduro.
Bukele was elected president in February, with his conservative Grand Alliance for National Unity winning 53 percent of the vote. Maduro, meanwhile, was elected to a second term in elections in May 2018, with his United Socialist Party of Venezuela taking 67.8 percent of the vote amid a boycott by the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable.
Row Over Rights
El Salvador gave Venezuelan diplomats 48 hours to leave the country on Sunday, with the government saying its decision was made out of concern for the human rights situation in Venezuela. President President Bukele said that his country recognizes opposition figure Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s ‘interim president’, adding that Guaido’s representatives would soon accredited as Venezuela’s official diplomatic representatives.
US Ambassador to El Salvador Ronald Johnson praised San Salvador’s move, saying Bukele had put himself “on the right side of history” by recognizing Guaido.
Hours later, Caracas responded in kind, expelling El Salvador’s diplomats and giving them 48 hours to leave Venezuela.
Venezuela has been in the midst of a severe political crisis since January, when, about two weeks after Maduro was inaugurated for a second term, opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido proclaimed himself ‘interim president’ and called on his countrymen and women to help him take power. Guaido immediately received diplomatic recognition from the US and its Latin American and European allies. Maduro, meanwhile, has accused Guaido of being a US “puppet,” and has alleged that the opposition lawmaker was working with Washington to stage a coup to take control of Venezuela’s vast natural resources.
On Monday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Mexico City wouldn't take sides in the dispute between Venezuela and El Salvador. "We're not going to make a statement in favour of either one because they are both sister nations and governments that we respect," Obrador said. Mexico has previously called on outside powers including the Lima Group not to meddle in the Venezuelan crisis.