Argentina, Brazil leaders blast 'dictatorship' in Venezuela

Brasília (AFP) –


The presidents of Argentina and Brazil on Wednesday strongly condemned "Nicolas Maduro's dictatorship" in Venezuela after holding their first face-to-face meeting.

"We reaffirm our condemnation of Maduro's dictatorship. We will not accept this affront to democracy," Argentine President Mauricio Macri told reporters in Brasilia with Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro standing nearby.

"The international community has already recognized that Maduro is a dictator who seeks to stay in power through fictitious elections, imprisoning opponents and leading Venezuelans into a desperate situation," he said.

Macri had used similar words last Thursday, as Maduro was sworn in for a second mandate at the head of a regime seen as illegitimate by the United States and several other countries.

Bolsonaro, a far-right former paratrooper who took office on January 1, had on Monday called Maduro a "modern-day Hitler" and declared that Brazil, like Argentina, was on the frontline of "the defense of liberty" in Latin America.

Both Brazil and Argentina are part of a country grouping in the Americas that spurns Maduro's rule and which recognizes Venezuela's largely sidelined opposition-controlled parliament as the "only legitimate institution" in the South American nation.

Macri and Bolsonaro said they had discussed other areas of shared interest, including the South American trade bloc Mercosur. They said they wanted to "accelerate" negotiations Mercosur is holding, notably with the European Union.