Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro accused President Donald Trump on Thursday of hounding his regime in a similar way to how Adolf Hitler persecuted Jewish people during the Holocaust.
During a televised speech to discuss his new economic reforms, Maduro decried Trump administration sanctions in response to his regime’s widespread human rights abuses.
“These are criminal acts, similar to the Nazis,” Maduro declared. “Very similar to the Nazi and fascist ideology. Just like Hitler persecuted the Jewish people, Donald Trump persecutes the people of Venezuela.”
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After invoking the Holocaust, the 56-year-old leader also announced some economic reforms, including a 150 percent increase in the country’s monthly minimum wage from 1,800 bolivares a month up to 4,500, equivalent to around eleven dollars a month. He also claimed that the inflation is “well below the expectations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF),” who predicted that inflation would reach one million percent by the end of the year.
It is not the first time that Maduro has compared the plight of Venezuelan socialists to the Jews, despite the country’s current humanitarian crisis indisputably being a result of his own leadership.
“We are the new Jews of the 21st century that Hitler persecuted, that is who we are,” he said in May last year. “We do not carry the yellow Star of David, we carry the red hearts full of the will to struggle and fight for human dignity and we will defeat these 21st century Nazis, these fascists.”
Such remarks are particularly ironic given his regime’s long history of anti-Semitism and virulent opposition to Israel. In May, a State Department report on Religious Freedom accused the regime in Venezuela of allowing “anti-Semitic overtones” within nation’s key institutions, including the judicial system.
The report seven cited representatives from the Confederation of Jewish Associations of Venezuela arguing that “criticism of Israel in government-owned or -affiliated media carried anti-Semitic overtones, sometimes disguised as anti-Zionist messages,” while “government-owned or -associated media and government supporters at times denied or trivialized the Holocaust.”
“Jewish leaders stated that to avoid accusations of anti-Semitism, government and some pro-government media began replacing the word ‘Jewish’ with ‘Zionist,’” the report added.
Diplomatically, the regime also keeps strong ties with anti-Semitic regimes such as Iran while supporting terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, both of whom have called for the destruction of Israel. Maduro has previously denied all allegations of anti-Semitism and has even claimed to be of Jewish heritage.
“We are not anti-Semites,” he said in 2013. “There has never been anti-Semitism in Venezuela … my grandparents were Jewish, both the Maduros and the Moros, and converted to Catholicism in Venezuela.”