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Venezuela Says Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon Is Hereby Unwelcome

In a tweet during a football match, Calderon made a dig at Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. And the backlash came quick.
June 18, 2015, 6:15pm
Imagen por Arnulfo Franco/AP

The former president of Mexico Felipe Calderon has been declared unwelcome in Venezuela after writing an "offensive" message during a recent football match between the national teams of Venezuela and Colombia.

Venezuela's Congress on Tuesday declared Calderon persona non grata in the country after the former president tweeted during Sunday's match between Venezuela and Colombia in the Copa America: "How sad, what a dirty game from the Venezuelan team. Seems like Maduro trained them."

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Qué pena, qué juego tan sucio del equipo de Venezuela. Parece que los entrenó Maduro…

— Felipe Calderón (@FelipeCalderon)June 14, 2015

Calderon was referring to Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, who has faced massive demonstrations against his government due in part to soaring inflation and shortages of consumer goods. And the backlash came quick.

"This message … is charged with deep hatred toward the Bolivarian Revolution," said legislator Earle Herrera, using a term to describe Venezuela's socialist government.

Maduro-supporting congressional leaders were joined by marquee names in the Venezuelan opposition in their repudiation of Calderon. Henrique Capriles, the governor of Miranda state who has twice run for president of Venezuela, called out Calderon for being rude.

"What a bad joke, president," Capriles tweeted in response. "The [national team] belongs to all Venezuelans, and we take a great pride in it."

Related: Venezuela Is Not a 'National Security Threat' After All, Obama Says

Calderon, who governed Mexico between 2006 and 2012, has sparked controversy throughout his political career for off-the-cuff, blunt, or questionable statements.In 2011, the respected Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui alleged that the conservative politician had a drinking problem, a claim the government denied but which has trailed the ex president for years.

When Calderon opened the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, social media sites lit up with jokes about the president slurring his words in the opening ceremony.

The former Mexican president was quick to answer his Venezuelan critics. "I thank Nicolas Maduro for naming me an 'unwelcome person.' Coming from him, it means a great honor. It would be worrying to be a welcome person for a despot," Calderon wrote.

Agradezco a — Felipe Calderón (@FelipeCalderon)June 17, 2015

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In May, prior to the June 7 elections in Mexico, Calderon got into a verbal brawl with the independent candidate for Nuevo Leon's governor's office, Jaime Rodrigez, or "El Bronco," who eventually won the race to lead Mexico's most prosperous state.

Calderon called the candidate a "danger" for Nuevo Leon, using what critics called an inflammatory term he also used against his bitter opponent in the 2006 presidential race, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

"El Bronco" snapped back, saying Calderon was probably "drunk or hungover when he talked about me."

In mid-May, reporters in Guanajuato state asked Calderon about allegations of corrupt practices in the planning of an oil refinery during his term. He flatly denied the accusations: "In my case no, absolutely not. You can accuse me of whatever you want, but not of being corrupt. I can have many … mistakes, but you can't accuse me of being corrupt."

In Sunday's Copa America game, Venezuela beat Colombia, 1-0.

Related: Wife of Conservative Ex-Leader of Mexico Says She's Running for President in 2018