The Venezuelan government is lashing out at the DNC for a new ad that compares Donald Trump to former revolutionary president Hugo Chávez, calling the commercial “racist” and “arrogant.”
The 1-minute video, posted on the Democrat's Spanish-language @DNCLatinos Twitter account, shows clips of Trump and Chávez making similar threats. It compares Trump threatening to incarcerate Hillary Clinton to Chávez threatening to jail his opponents. It also shows both men targeting freedom of the press.
One segment shows the famous clip of Trump tossing Jorge Ramos out of a press conference, then it cuts to Chávez railing against the media with subtitles explaining how the former Venezuelan strongman shut down 34 radio stations during his presidency.
“Let's protect our country's democracy,” the ad says in Spanish. “Let's not vote for Trump”
It's not the first time Venezuela and Chávez have played the role of bogeymen during the U.S. campaign. Bernie Sanders was sometimes accused of envisioning a socialist state similar to Venezuela, and Trump has said that if Hillary Clinton wins and appoints liberal Supreme Court judges the U.S. would become “a large-scale Venezuela.”
But the Trump-Chávez thing was apparently too much for the Venezuelan government to stomach. The struggling South American government is very touchy about defending and lionizing Chávez, and doesn't want the memory of their "eternal commander" soiled by a Trump comparison.
On Wednesday, Venezuela's Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez tweeted that the comparison reflected the “racist, arrogant and irrational” nature of the Democratic party, one that "does not take care of its electorate's needs.”
Rodriguez followed that with another tweet saying “commander Chávez was a leader who transcended our era, thanks to his democratic nature, his militancy for the poor, and his universal sense of humanity.”
The Trump / Chávez comparison has also been made by several serious political analysts and journalists.
In an article titled “How Donald Trump became America's Hugo Chávez,” The Guardian's Rory Carroll notes that both politicians have a penchant for bullying their opponents into submission, and feeding off the anger of a disgruntled segment of the population.
Fusion's Jorge Ramos has also made the comparison, describing Trump and Chávez as “egocentric” politicians who “hate the press” and are hellbent on accumulating power.
(Related: Who said it, Trump or Chavez? Take our Quiz)
Other analysts say Trump and Chávez are different types of populists. An article in the Washington Post recently argued that while Trump “draws lines” between native born citizens and immigrants, Chávez “sought to include and empower marginalized or vulnerable populations.”
In any event, both Republicans and Democrats seem to be getting some extra campaign mileage out of Venezuela's continued struggles.
The South American country, which recently delayed state elections and suspended a recall referendum against President Maduro, has become a worst-case scenario for democracy, a nation whose name and leadership are synonymous with ruin.
Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.