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Venezuela's Maduro gets support from Erdogan, Maradona ahead of vote

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Venezuela's Maduro gets support from Erdogan, Maradona ahead of vote

By Alexandra Ulmer and Corina Pons

 

2018-05-17T202709Z_1_LYNXNPEE4G1R3_RTROPTP_4_VENEZUELA-ELECTION.JPG

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gestures as he addresses supporters during his closing campaign rally in Caracas, Venezuela May 17, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

 

CARACAS/BARQUISIMETO, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuela's diplomatically-isolated president got a show of support from his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan and Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona on Thursday ahead of a weekend election widely decried as unfair.

 

The United States, the European Union and major Latin American countries have criticized Sunday's vote in which leftist President Nicolas Maduro is likely to win re-election to a six-year term.

 

Critics say Maduro, a 55-year-old former bus driver who has presided over an economic meltdown, is virtually assured victory as two of his most popular opponents are banned from running and the electoral council is pro-government.

 

The Trump administration has threatened further sanctions and urged Latin America to cut off Venezuelan officials from financial systems and restrict their travel visas.

 

Any foreign shows of support are especially welcome to Maduro in the run-up to Sunday. On the campaign trail he has sought to legitimize his leadership, while playing down the brutal economic crisis that has Venezuelans skipping meals, succumbing to once controlled diseases, and emigrating en masse.

 

In a split screen chat broadcast on Venezuelan state television on Thursday, Maduro and Erdogan held a stilted, translated conversation that had several technical problems.

 

"I have faith you will be triumphant," Erdogan told Maduro, whose main rival is former state Governor Henri Falcon, who broke with an opposition boycott to run for the presidency.

 

In turn, Maduro told Erdogan "Venezuelans are going to give a lesson on democracy and liberty to the world on Sunday."

 

At Maduro's closing campaign event later on Thursday in central Caracas, Maradona surprised the crowd by dancing to the rhythm of a catchy reggaeton song while waving a Venezuelan yellow, blue and red flag.

 

Maradona, who has called himself a "soldier" for Maduro, is well-known for supporting leftist politicians and was a friend of his predecessor Hugo Chavez and the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro, whose image is tattooed on his leg.

 

Maduro and Erdogan have both faced criticism for their authoritarian-style rule and seeking to snuff out dissent while mishandling their economies.

 

'I WILL FIX ECONOMY'

Maduro regularly says a right-wing, U.S.-led campaign is sabotaging the economy in order to foment a coup and usher in a capitalist leadership.

 

"I will dedicate my life to fixing the economy of this country .. My spirit is renewed, my energy recharged," Maduro told a crowd of red-shirted supporters at his rally, saying he had been loyal to Chavez's legacy during his first term.

 

Mainstream economists blame strict currency controls, poor management, and corruption for Venezuela's deep recession. Rights activists also say Maduro has cracked down on protests and unjustly imprisoned activists.

 

"The situation is unbearable. Look how hungry we are ... I trust God that this goddamn president will go," said Reina Morillo, 48, among hundreds of Falcon supporters at his closing rally in the central city of Barquisimeto.

 

Opposition lawmaker and economist Angel Alvarado told Reuters the government no longer cared about its legitimacy in Western eyes, but was looking to cement relations with the likes of Russia, China, Turkey and Qatar.

 

China and Russia have lent Caracas billions of dollars and both have significant oil fields in Venezuela, home to the world's biggest crude reserves.

 

Turkey has a much smaller presence, but Turkish Airlines started flying to Caracas in 2016 - one of a few major international carriers to still service the chaotic country - and Venezuela's government has said Turkey would invest in its new "petro" cryptocurrency.

 

Venezuelan opposition leaders say Maduro is selling assets on the cheap in an attempt to keep his cash-strapped government afloat despite a fifth straight year of recession and collapsing oil production.

 

At his final rally, Falcon waved a rendering of a $100 bill to remind voters of his proposal to dollarise Venezuela's economy.

 

"I will free Venezuelan from dictatorship," he shouted on stage to cheers from supporters. "Maduro, the people want to bid you good riddance because you have caused great harm."

 

(Additional reporting by Leon Wietfeld, Deisy Buitrago, Andreina Aponte and Girish Gupta in Caracas; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Tom Brown)

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2018-05-18
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We are all fortunate that Venezuela is doing this 21st century experiment in communism. All the other massive failures seem to be too far in the past now and people are forgetting what communism looks like. It is very brave of Venezuala to sacrifice itself into certain failed statehood as a living example of the Marx's poorly thought out Utopian state. Sorry that most of them will probably die in terrible ways, before they are taken over by another state and lose whatever sovereignty they had.

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2 hours ago, webfact said:

Venezuela's diplomatically-isolated president got a show of support from his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan and Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona on Thursday ahead of a weekend election widely decried as unfair.

How in the whole wide world can any kind of human beeing support an idiot like Nicholas Maduro? Now we know the turkish president and Maradona is two documented clowns.
Here we have a man that just followed in the steps of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

Venezuela is and should be one of the worlds richest countries, but the severe corruption has brought people to the length of begging for their food with food coupons.

That Erdogan was flipped out of enomuos proportions, I already was aware of, but that Maradona would be the same I had no clue about.

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1 hour ago, Get Real said:

How in the whole wide world can any kind of human beeing support an idiot like Nicholas Maduro? Now we know the turkish president and Maradona is two documented clowns.
Here we have a man that just followed in the steps of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

Venezuela is and should be one of the worlds richest countries, but the severe corruption has brought people to the length of begging for their food with food coupons.

That Erdogan was flipped out of enomuos proportions, I already was aware of, but that Maradona would be the same I had no clue about.

 

We have a corrupt dictator in Maduro, whose family, friends, and cronies, have become very very unusually wealthy being supported by dictator Erdogan, who has, along with his family been linked to corruption and unusual wealth.

Wonder what they have in common - a love for democracy and the people they serve :smile:

 

And <deleted> does a cheating junkie who used to play football know?

 

Wonder if Vlad will be along to had his substantial support?

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I really, truly want to have sympathy for the Venezuelan people, but they voted for these jokers in the first place going all the way back to Chavez. That was a free and fair election, as well as subsequent elections. Now the whole thing is a farce, but the people of Venezuela got in bed with the devil and now they have to deal with it.

Their suffering is a good lesson for the rest of the world about what happens when you believe the socialist marxist crap these guys are selling. 

 

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BANGKOK 24 May 2018 00:07
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