Venezuela leader’s Instagram account runs to nearly 150,000 followers

Newsweek estimated his wealth at $10bn (£7.5bn) in a cover story last year. The Venezuelan leader’s critics attribute the figure to the alleged “bottomless pit” of his bank accounts, which they say are being…

Venezuela leader's Instagram account runs to nearly 150,000 followers

Newsweek estimated his wealth at $10bn (£7.5bn) in a cover story last year. The Venezuelan leader’s critics attribute the figure to the alleged “bottomless pit” of his bank accounts, which they say are being stashed in Panama, Belize and other Caribbean tax havens.

The magazine said this year he had personal assets worth between $3bn and $10bn. He denies the allegations.

The article that came to be known as “Maduro’s Bullshit Empire” was published shortly after the publication of the Panama Papers, the largest ever leak of leaked documents from law firm Mossack Fonseca, which were written up by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and featured alleged offshore dealings of dozens of politicians and celebrities including celebrities such as David Beckham, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and the actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Kim Kardashian.

Manuel René Calderón, Venezuela’s tax minister, had said in 2017 that the president’s relatives owned an island in the Bahamas. But in August, Forbes magazine said the island had been sold and it was unclear who bought it, or if Maduro’s relatives even own it.

He has more than 16 million followers on his Instagram account. He became first elected president of Venezuela in 2013, during the reign of his mentor, Hugo Chávez.

He is almost blind. He cannot see or read, and instead he writes via a translator.

When the crossword puzzle was on the front page of the New York Times in August, he was celebrating the success of his nephews who won the Major League Baseball championship. He criticised the United States and spoke of “importing madness”.

He reportedly listens to music while riding a horse. “At the same time as you can recognise that someone is in a totally altered state of consciousness, it also means that we can observe the physical way of thinking that’s present in that person. And that, too, presents a huge sign of derangement,” Nicolas Maduro has said.

In February, he said he would “rip off the scabs of the insurgency”. After three days of opposition protests, the country descended into violence in which Venezuela’s leader added to the list of his critics with a prolonged bashing of the US and its “crimes”.

When he moved into Miraflores palace, Maduro inherited a scene of chaos. He was the eighth president to occupy the unique edifice and the first made famous.

He has favoured the use of glittering diamonds, the centrepiece of his fashion choices. This summer he apparently wore £46m in unashamedly ostentatious bling.

His election was marred by violent protests. As president he has overseen an era of greater economic crisis as Venezuela has struggled to recover from a collapse in oil production that left it producing less than half its normal production. He is also under pressure over high levels of violent crime.

In the past few months, he has stood up to Donald Trump and his administration’s support for opposition protests. His style is a sharp contrast to that of his predecessor Chávez, who was known for his caustic wit. At his inauguration in 2013 he delivered his speech in English, and he began using Twitter for political communication.

Maduro was a member of a global elite group including Jimmy Carter and Mother Teresa. He took his election vows over a wave of discontent to the poorest quarters of the city of Caracas. But his rhetoric was aggressive and at times apocalyptic, coming at a time when the country faced deep economic problems. As the country looked for external help, the prime minister of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, proposed a historic trip to the Andean nation, while the Pope and the UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, called for dialogue.

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