Relations between Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and President Trump have been pretty frosty of late. So Maduro tried something new to get Trump's attention: Twitter.
Tuesday morning, the Venezuelan leader jumped online to ask for talks between the two countries.
Trump “campaigned promoting noninterference in other countries' domestic affairs,” Maduro tweeted. “The time has come to fulfill it and change your agenda of aggression for one of dialogue.”
“Dialogue in Caracas or Washington DC?” he added. “Time and place and I will be there.”
It's not the first time that Maduro has publicly extended an invitation to Trump. In a televised speech in August, for instance, he declared, “Mr. Donald Trump, here is my hand.”
“If he's so interested in Venezuela,” Maduro continued, “here I am.”
Those invitations for dialogue have come as bilateral relations continue to deteriorate. Over the last several years, Venezuela's economy has tanked. At the same time, Maduro has tightened his grip on the country's political process, making free elections and opposition leadership nearly impossible.
In response, the Trump administration has imposed strict sanctions on Maduro and his allies. It has also referred to Maduro as a “dictator.” Last August, Trump said he would not rule out a military intervention in the country.
Maduro, meanwhile, has blamed his country's economic woes on Washington, suggesting that the United States is keeping Venezuelans hungry and without vital resources. The Venezuelan leader has also criticized and attacked Trump personally. At a news conference last week, Maduro said an oil embargo, which has been suggested by U.S. officials, would be “one of the biggest mistakes in international politics made by President Donald Trump.” Maduro predicted that such a move would end Trump's political career.
If Maduro's Twitter invitation is highly unlikely to stir Trump to pay a visit, it did not play much better with his base at home, either. Many Venezuelan social media users mocked Maduro's tweet, saying it made him look desperate. They also pointed out that Maduro has spent months blaming the United States for Venezuela's economic crisis.
“Which dialogue?” user Yuvicj tweeted. “If you @NicolasMaduro are not even able to dialogue with opposition Venezuelans. What are you going to talk about with @realDonaldTrump? Loudmouthed mass murderer. Quit!!”
“This is how Trump probably mimicked you when he read this tweet,” tweeted user Daniel G. Serpa, weaving in a clip of Trump mocking a disabled reporter.
Maduro uses Twitter about as often as Trump, posting on a daily basis. But he does not have quite the same gift for drumming up attention from the public or the news media.
On Saturday, for example, Maduro posted a tweet promising an “important surprise” scheduled for the next day at 8:55 p.m. When people checked back in, the president had shared a propaganda video of him and his ruling-party supporters promoting him as a candidate for reelection in sign language. The video was promoted by officials and by state media, but the public largely made fun of it.