After months of attempting to ingratiate himself with President Donald Trump, Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro has changed his tune, accusing him of a “conspiracy” to overthrow his regime and demanding Trump “get your dirty hands out of” Venezuela.
The Trump administration imposed sanctions on the nation’s Supreme Court last week, which is closely tied to Maduro and recently attempted to annul the existence of the National Assembly and impose itself as the national legislative body of Venezuela. The move triggered a wave of protests that, 52 days later, persist nationwide.
In a belligerent address on national television Sunday, Maduro described the Trump administration as “a government that hates Latin America” and called the opposition “puppets of the nefarious government of the United States.”
“I tried to seek dialogue but, lamentably, the Venezuelan opposition is subservient to the mandate of Donald Trump, the commander in chief of the opposition, who took off his mask attacking our country this week,” Maduro claimed.
“I reject and repudiate Donald Trump’s statements against the dignity of the Venezuelan nation,” Maduro declared. “Get your dirty hands out of here, Donald Trump! Enough with imperialist intervention!”
In an attempt at English, Maduro appeared to add, “Go home, Donald Trump!”
“Go fix the United States’ problems, your own people don’t like you,” Maduro claimed. “Don’t mess with Venezuela.” He went on to accuse Trump of “hurting Mexico” and “deporting thousands of Colombians every week,” and to condemn presidents Enrique Peña Nieto and Juan Manuel Santos of the respective countries for not cutting ties to Trump. Santos visited Trump in Washington last week, where they agreed to cooperate on finding a solution to the Venezuelan crisis.
Maduro concluded with a threat to Trump that he would soon fall victim of a corruption probe like Brazilian President Michel Temer, who previously served as vice president to leftist president Dilma Rousseff.
While there is no evidence the U.S. has deported Colombians at higher rates than other illegal migrants, the government of Venezuela has done so using violent tactics that violate the human rights of Colombian citizens.
In 2015, Maduro ordered a deportation of all Colombian citizens legally present near the border, a total of over 20,000 people, many living in mixed-nationality households for years. Santos accused Maduro of using “Nazi ghetto tactics,” including beating Colombian nationals and looting their homes after deportation, during the spree.
Maduro appeared particularly incensed that Santos and Trump discussed the disaster in his country at the White House. “People don’t have enough to eat. People have no food. There’s great violence. And we will do whatever is necessary, and we’ll work together to do whatever is necessary to help with fixing that, and I’m really talking on a humanitarian level,” Trump said during their joint press conference. “A stable and peaceful Venezuela is in the best interest of the entire hemisphere. And America stands with all of the people in our great hemisphere yearning to be free.”
Trump described Venezuela as a “disgrace to humanity.”
The Trump administration has acted against high-ranking members of Maduro’s government, which has repeatedly used state violence against unarmed protesters. Most recently, the Treasury Department announced that it would freeze the assets of all eight members of the Venezuelan Supreme Court in the United States and generally ban U.S. citizens from conducting business with them.
“The designated officials… are responsible for a number of judicial rulings in the past year that have usurped the authority of Venezuela’s democratically-elected legislature, the National Assembly, including by allowing the Executive Branch to rule through emergency decree, thereby restricting the rights and thwarting the will of the Venezuelan people,” the Treasury said in a statement.
Trump’s moves to isolate Maduro’s government and limit its ability to oppress its citizens has triggered a significant change in tone out of the socialist dictator. Following Trump’s election, Maduro had said he hoped for “the best respectful relations” with America under Trump. Maduro praised Trump for allegedly offering good food prices and emphasizing the need to end illegal drug trafficking, in which many Venezuelan officials allegedly participate.
In one particularly notable instance in March, Maduro attempted to send a cryptic message to Trump in English, which outlets transcribed as: “Open your hair. Don’t let them got to you.”