President Nicolás Maduro, the man currently overseeing Venezuela’s descent into economic madness and authoritarianism, clapped back at U.S. Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday, calling Trump’s number two a "poisonous viper."
Pence had earlier accused Maduro of leading a "devastating dictatorship" after meeting Venezuelan migrants during an official visit to Brazil as part of a South American tour.
In a televised speech, Maduro carped: “Every time the poisonous viper Mike Pence opens his mouth, I feel stronger,” adding: “We have defeated you and we are going to defeat you wherever you are.”
Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have fled the country's economic crisis in recent years, with more than 30,000 seeking asylum in neighboring Brazil. Colombia and Chile have also taken in migrants fleeing hyperinflation and chronic shortages of basic goods.
Pence landed in Ecuador Wednesday, part of his tour of South America where he is looking to build regional opposition to Maduro’s regime. The U.S. has imposed heavy sanctions on the Venezuelan president and his allies, prompting accusations from Maduro that Washington is waging an “economic war” in order to force him from office.
In his speech, Maduro also attacked the European Union, claiming the trading bloc was kowtowing to the U.S. by slapping its own sanctions on Caracas — despite the fact that Washington and Brussels are currently embroiled in a trade war that threatens to unsettle the entire North Atlantic alliance.
The EU on Monday imposed sanctions on 11 Venezuelan officials, citing human rights violations and May’s election, which the bloc claims was fraudulent due to the jailing of political opponents, accusations of widespread vote-buying, and record-low voter turnout. Venezuelan vice president Delcy Rodríguez was among those targeted by Europ
Cover image: VP Mike Pence, addressing the 2018 American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on Monday, March 5, 2018. (Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)