Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday called Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro a modern Adolf Hitler, days after Brasilia officially recognized an opposition leader as the legitimate head of the increasingly isolated country.
‘Over there we’ve got Brazil in the hands of a fascist – Bolsonaro is a Hitler of the modern era!’ Maduro said during a state of the nation speech.
‘Let’s leave the task of Bolsonaro to the wonderful people of Brazil, who will fight and take care of him.’
The Brazilian president’s office said through a spokeswoman that it would not comment.
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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks before the Constituent Assembly to announce measures to alleviate the serious economic crisis, at the Federal Legislative Palace in Caracas on January 14, 2019
Maduro gestures during a state of the union address in Caracas, Venezuela, on Monday. He called Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro ‘a modern Adolf Hitler’ during the speech
Guaido on Friday had said he was willing to assume the presidency after opposition leaders said Maduro’s second term was illegitimate because the broadly boycotted 2018 elections were rigged in his favor.
Guaido, who was briefly detained by intelligence agents on his way to a political rally on Sunday, has not declared himself president.
Brazil and Venezuela maintained cordial relations for over a decade thanks to friendly ties between Brazil’s Workers Party and Venezuela’s Socialist Party.
Bolsonaro, a fervent anti-communist who has praised his country’s 1964-85 military dictatorship, has promised to target Venezuela.
Maduro kicked off his new term with a state-of-the-nation speech Monday but offered little in the way of fresh proposals to help the increasingly isolated country escape hyperinflationary collapse or a further downward spiral in 2019.
The former bus driver began a second term last week under an avalanche of criticism that his leadership is illegitimate following a disputed 2018 election, with countries around the world disavowing his government.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attends the swearing-in ceremony of Brazil’s new Army chief, Edson Leal Pujol (out of frame), in Brasilia, on January 11, 2019
After promising ambitious economic measures ahead of Monday’s speech, Maduro’s proposals included a 300 percent minimum wage hike, dialogue with business leaders, and increased use of an inexistent state-backed cryptocurrency.
That would make little difference to Venezuela’s dire situation, economists and analysts said.
‘It’s a sort of deja vu. There is nothing there that allows one to think that Venezuela will exit the deep crisis it’s experiencing,’ said Asdrubal Oliveros, director of Caracas-based consultancy Ecoanalitica, on Twitter.
Economists had had low expectations for the speech given Maduro has repeatedly balked at making significant changes.
The socialist government, they say, funds wage hikes by increasing the country’s monetary supply, causing inflation to accelerate and negating any benefit an increase in the minimum wage could bring for Venezuelans.
The new minimum wage of 18,000 bolivars per month – around $6.70 – is enough to buy a few basic products, such as a carton of eggs and a kilo of beef.
But annual inflation of almost 2 million percent strips away purchasing power within days.
Maduro told the all-powerful pro-government Constituent Assembly legislature that his second term would herald a new boom in Venezuela.
He said it was a lie that he was the enemy of private enterprise and invited businesses to ‘accompany me’ for the next six years.
‘Let no one doubt it, we are triumphing, we will go on, in a Venezuela that is great, prosperous, and socialist,’ Maduro said as assembly members chanted, ‘That’s how one governs.’
Maduro, who first took power in 2013, has faced growing international sanctions since winning re-election last May in a vote widely considered fraudulent.
This has cut Venezuela off from foreign financing and left his government with few friends abroad.
Critics in the United States and Latin America, as well as political opponents at home, have called Maduro a dictator whose failed state-led policies have caused Venezuela’s worst ever economic crisis.
Maduro counters that he is a victim of a U.S.-led ‘economic war’ aimed at ousting him from power.