The Obama administration has refrained from recognizing his government. In Colombia, two former presidents — Álvaro Uribe and Andrés Pastrana — leveled criticisms against it. And in Paraguay and Peru, lawmakers eagerly met with Venezuelan opposition leaders, with one congresswoman in Lima, Lourdes Alcorta, going so far as to say, “Let’s be clear that there is no president in Venezuela,” but rather a usurper who seized power.
Peru’s foreign minister, Rafael Roncagliolo, called for “a climate of dialogue and tolerance” in Venezuela. His comments angered Maduro, who lashed out at the foreign minister, saying: “He’s wrong. Roncagliolo, you have made the mistake of your life.”
Later, however, Roncagliolo said he is working to convene a meeting of the regional Union of South American Nations to discuss the situation.
Overall, though, Maduro garnered praise from respected leaders such as Uruguayan President Jose “Pepe” Mujica, who during Maduro’s visit to Montevideo on Tuesday gushed about Venezuela’s new role in the regional trade group, Mercosur, of which Uruguay is a founding member. Maduro in turn pledged “a permanent supply of petroleum” to Uruguay.
In Caracas last Sunday, Maduro oversaw a gathering of the small Central American and Caribbean countries that make up the Petrocaribe alliance, in which Venezuela provides cut-rate oil. Maduro announced that two new members, Honduras and Guatemala, would be incorporated into Petrocaribe.
Gargantuan Brazil, the world’s seventh-largest economy, also sees big economic opportunities in a country deeply dependent on imported food and open to Brazil’s biggest construction firms. Rousseff said that under Maduro, the two countries would increase their trade, which in 2012 totaled $6 billion.
“I’m sure that with President Maduro, I will have the same high-level relationship that I had with President Chavez,” Rousseff said.
Maduro, in return, presented her with a gift: a large photograph of Chavez.
Paula Moure in Sao Paulo, Brazil, contributed to this report.