'The Comandante would treat himself to some sweet papaya': Venezuela government celebrates Trump firing John Bolton

Peter Stubley
AP

Venezuelan government officials have celebrated the sacking of US national security adviser John Bolton, who backed attempts to topple the country’s president Nicolas Maduro.

“He is the one who has lied and done more damage to our people,” tweeted industry minister Tareck El Aissami. “Historical truth has vanquished the demons of war! The future is ours!”

Another official, who refused to be named, welcomed the removal of Mr Bolton by referring to the late president Hugo Chavez’s preference for a traditional Venezuelan dessert.

“On days like this, the Comandante would treat himself to some sweet papaya,” the official said.

Mr Bolton regularly targeted the Venezuelan government on social media, at one point calling for “Maduro and his cronies to take the offer of an exit before the door closes”.

The Venezuelan president responded by accusing Mr Bolton of personally overseeing the failed attempt to assassinate him using explosive-laden drones in August last year.

“Maduro is likely thinking ‘good riddance’ and that this is sweet revenge for all the macho posturing,” said Chris Sabatini, senior fellow for Latin America at Chatham House in London. ”But that would be a mistake.

“Bolton’s strategy was flawed from the beginning and his departure may pave the way to bring in a more professional, effective diplomat that could be a greater threat to Maduro’s autocracy.”

Donald Trump had previously claimed that his national security adviser wanted to get him “into a war” and questioned his own administration’s aggressive strategy in Venezuela.

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Disagreements over how to handle North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan and Russia also led to the president’s decision to dismiss Mr Bolton on Tuesday.

The Iranian government welcomed Mr Bolton’s departure, describing him as “the biggest supporter of war and economic terrorism”.

Spokesman Ali Rabiei added: “John Bolton had promised months ago that Iran would last for another three months. We are still standing and he is gone.”

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani ​also signalled his approval of Mr Bolton’s dismissal by urging the US to “put warmongers aside and abandon warmongering and its maximum pressure policy”.

Russia reacted more cautiously to the news. “We don’t have any illusions and we are not cherishing any hopes,” said deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkhov.

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“We will judge what may change in the US foreign policy, especially on Russia, only by particular steps, rather than by decisions on staff or moreover statements, because we have heard many of these of late, including in favour of improving relations.”

Mr Trump has appointed Charles Kupperman as acting national security adviser, though there are several other contenders for the permanent role.

Additional reporting by AP and Reuters

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