Speaking at an event during a visit to Cuba on Sunday, Maduro described Bukele’s hostile move as “embarrassing,” saying history will remember El Salvador as a “puppet” of the United States, which has been lending all-out support to the Venezuelan opposition in a coup bid against the legal Caracas government.
“It’s embarrassing to see how he (Bukele) cowers before the imperialist (United States), a person who had come into the presidency with hope for the Salvadoran people. But history is history. Bukele will not be saved by history. His place will be that of a traitor, a fighter for imperialism, it’s as simple as that,” Maduro said.
Earlier on Sunday, Bukele ordered Venezuelan diplomats to leave El Salvador within 48 hours.
Bukele said he recognized the US-backed opposition leader, Juan Guaido, as Venezuela’s leader, and that only diplomats representing Guaido’s “government” would be welcome in El Salvador.
The US quickly praised the move, saying El Salvador was “on the right side of history.”
Caracas shot back shortly afterwards, with the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry declaring each of the Salvadoran diplomats in Caracas “persona non grata” and giving them 48 hours to leave the country.
Maduro further said Bukele’s move has no support among El Salvador’s people and will fail to separate the two nations.
Salvadorans, the Venezuelan leader said, “don’t want any wimp for the imperialists.”
Guaido pushed Venezuela into political turmoil last year by rejecting the outcome of the May 2018 presidential election — which was won by Maduro — and declaring himself “interim president.”
Washington, along with its European and regional allies, recognized Guaido as the new leader of the oil-rich country, and began pressing other states into severing ties with Caracas.
Guaido has, however, failed in his attempts to topple Maduro despite enjoying firm support from abroad.
The Maduro government has repeatedly called on Guaido to drop its US-backed coup bid and engage, instead, in dialog with the government.