Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro once again attempted to send a message of cooperation to American President Donald Trump last week, warning Trump against an unspecified “they” in an English-language message that appeared to stump online outlets and social media users.
“English is not his forte, but he wanted to try,” notes the Argentine newspaper La Nación, which transliterates Maduro’s message as “Please, open your ears. Don’t let them come to you.” Another Argentine outlet, Infobae, writes the last sentence as “don’t let them talk to you.” Infobae adds a note of caution on their own version of the message: “the message was not understood due to the executive’s bad pronunciation and elicited all sorts of mockery on social media.”
CiberCuba, an aggregation outlet targeting Cuban and Cuban-American readers, published the message as “open your hair.”
The Colombian newspaper El Colombiano writes his message as “open your hear. Don’t let them got to you,” but concedes the intended message was the version printed in El Nacional.
Miami’s El Nuevo Herald did not attempt to write down the message, instead posting the video and describing Maduro’s words as “strange.” “The message is practically unintelligible,” the Herald notes, “but apparently Maduro is attempting to give some sort of advice to President Trump.”
Maduro delivered his warning during a speech commemorating “Anti-Imperialist Day,” according to the pro-Maduro Telesur outlet. Telesur does not highlight his English, but instead notes that Maduro used the event to decry “a holocaust against the Muslim people” and call for “Latin Americans and Muslims to unite and struggle together.”
Socialist Venezuela has been a close ally of the Islamic Republic of Iran since the late dictator Hugo Chávez took power and has been accused of providing material support to the Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah.
The Venezuelan president is not known to be fluent in English, though he has repeatedly attempted to speak it during rallies in an attempt to get the attention of American officials. Following President Barack Obama’s designation of Venezuela as a “national security threat” in March 2015, he took to national airwaves to call for Obama to “repeal the executive order.” “Venezuela is not a threat, we are hope,” he told a crowd at a state-organized protest against the United States.
Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez, was also fond of using English to berate the President of the United States. In one particularly famous scene from his television program Aló Presidente, Chávez repeatedly referred to President George W. Bush as “Mr. Danger,” “a donkey,” and “the last,” an attempt to call him “the worst.”
Maduro appears to be taking the opposite tact with President Trump, warning him that embedded security interests are supposedly interested in starting a war with Venezuela and Maduro — not the U.S. government — is putting Trump’s interests first. The president of Venezuela has flattered President Trump for expressing concern about the nation’s opiate epidemic and said he is interested in a cooperative relationship with his American counterpart.
“I aspire, hope, and will work so that, hopefully, with the next presidency with Donald Trump, an independent, Bolivarian Venezuela, peaceful and revolutionary, will have the best respectful relations with the United States of America,” Maduro said following Trump’s election.
President Trump has not returned the favor, instead demanding that Maduro release the unknown number of political prisoners currently held in the country and meeting with a top Venezuelan dissident, Lilian Tintori, in the Oval Office. Tintori’s husband, Popular Will party leader Leopoldo López, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for organizing a peaceful rally against Maduro.
Trump’s Treasury Department has also designated Venezuela’s vice president, Tareck El Aissami, a known narcotics trafficker for his ties to, among others, the Mexican Zetas cartel and Hezbollah. Maduro has demanded a public apology from the U.S. government and praised El Aissami’s “cojones” as a public official.