Argentina and Brazil presidents criticize Maduro

January 16, 2019
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Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, left, makes a gun signal as he arrives with Argentina's President Mauricio Macri for a lunch at Itamaraty palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. Macri is a one-day visit to Brazil. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

SAO PAULO (AP) — The conservative leaders of Argentina and Brazil threw more support Wednesday to opponents of Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri became the first head of state to visit Brasilia since the Jan. 1 inauguration of Jair Bolsonaro and the crisis in Venezuela was on their minds.

Macri said that Maduro is a “dictator trying to perpetuate himself in power through fictitious elections.” And he said the two leaders agree that the opposition-controlled congress is the “only democratically elected entity in Venezuela.”

Bolsonaro said the two countries “will continue advancing toward democracy and freedom” in Venezuela.

Maduro began a second term last week after a May election many nations consider illegitimate. Venezuela’s economic crisis has flooded nearby nations with millions of economic refugees.

The two presidents said they also discussed the Mercosur trade block, which also includes Uruguay and Paraguay.

Bolsonaro said he and Macri agreed on the importance of reducing trade barriers and bureaucracy as ways to improve Mercosur.

Brazil’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Macri and Bolsonaro also focused on ways to cooperate on boosting trade, fighting crime and corruption and work together in the defense and nuclear sectors.

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