Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro discussed on Wednesday the warm reception the actual president of his country, Juan Guaidó, received at President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday, decrying Trump as “interventionist” and “immoral.”
Maduro, who maintains control of the country through the military but has not legally been president since January 2018, denounced Trump’s move to invite the president to his address as “illegal,” following up on a statement from his foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, that described the address as a “circus spectacle.”
Speaking on Wednesday evening, Maduro also claimed that he had tried to “extend his hand” to Trump at the beginning of the latter’s presidency, but that he had allowed those around him aware of the destitution that Maduro’s Bolivarian socialist had caused in what was once the wealthiest nation in the region to “take [him] to failure.”
“Donald Trump, you will not be able to handle Venezuela,” Maduro declared. “No one can crush or break Venezuela. Venezuela has a right to peace, to development towards the future, to its work, to its recovery.”
Maduro then reiterated the false claim that Guaidó had somehow been installed in the presidency by the United States. In reality, the Venezuelan constitution grants the National Assembly, the federal legislature, the right to appoint an interim president in the event of a “rupture in the democratic order,” commonly defined as a situation where an incumbent president refuses to leave power after his or her term ends. Maduro refused to leave in January 2019 after his term ended, so the Assembly appointed Guaidó, then the Assembly president, the president of the country.
Maduro claims legitimacy based on an election in May 2018 in which he banned all non-Marxist candidates from running and intimidated voters into choosing between voting for someone else and, often, their food or livelihoods.
“In Venezuela, the president of the republic isn’t chosen by the president of the United States,” Maduro declared on Wednesday. “The people of Venezuela choose him through popular vote. It has always been like this and it will always be like this. And I am the president legitimately elected according to the constitution.”
“Enough with your sick obsession, Trump, with Venezuela!” Maduro boomed. “I extended my hand to Trump many times and he thinks that, if one wants dialogue, that is a sign of weakness, no? I tell the people of the United States, Donald Trump is marching the United States towards a high-level conflict against Venezuela.”
“I call on the honest sectors of the United States to confront this interventionist, illegal, immoral policy of Donald Trump against the noble and pacific people of Venezuela. We will continue our path, we will continue it,” Maduro affirmed. “We will continue transiting through the socialist revolution’s path. We have the right to build socialism and we will build it – a new, democratic, humanist, Christian socialism of the 21st century, our socialism.”
Maduro concluded by announcing that Guaidó would “end up without a job” by the end of the year because Maduro is calling for socialist-led National Assembly elections and that, when he does, “it will be [Trump’s] failure.”
“Donald, Mister Donald Trump, they have taken you to failure and the same advisors you have are taking you to failure by putting the dummy, the puppet by your side,” Maduro said of Guaidó. “They filled you with defeat, with failure, with lies, with manipulation. Meanwhile, us in Venezuela, time to get to work.”
Unlike his foreign minister Arreaza – late dictator Hugo Chávez’s son-in-law – Maduro did not insult the State of the Union address itself, instead insulting Trump personally. Earlier on Wednesday, Arreaza issued an official statement disparaging the entire address as “delirious and arrogant” and warning that America was attempting to “plague our America with misery,” referring to Latin America.
“In an agonizing effort to revive the already failed strategy of changing the government by force in the middle of a circus spectacle, Trump offended and disrespected the Venezuelan people by offering violent threats against their integrity and the legitimate, constitutional, and democratic government of President Nicolás Maduro Moros,” Arreaza wrote. “Venezuela is and will be irrevocably free and independent, only the people of Venezuela will determine its victorious, sovereign, and socialist present and future.”
Trump addressed the dire humanitarian situation in Venezuela during his State of the Union speech Tuesday before acknowledging and applauding Guaidó, a surprise guest at the event.
“Here this evening is a man who carries with him the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of all Venezuelans. Joining us in the gallery is the true and legitimate President of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó,” Trump said. “Mr. President, please take this message back to your homeland: All Americans are united with the Venezuelan people in their righteous struggle for freedom! Socialism destroys nations. But always remember, freedom unifies the soul.”
Trump met with Guaidó in the White House on Wednesday.
The U.S. will continue to work with our partners in the region to confront the illegitimate dictatorship in Venezuela & stand alongside the Venezuelan people to ensure a democratic, prosperous future. 🇺🇸🇻 pic.twitter.com/7oNA73Y2s4
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 6, 2020
Guaidó is currently on an international tour to galvanize support from the global community for his legitimacy as president. In addition to meeting with Trump, Guaidó has met with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).