Venezuela slams 'farce' and 'coup' against Brazil's Rousseff

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s socialist government on Thursday condemned the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff as a U.S.-inspired mockery of popular will and a menace to Latin America’s now-diminishing leftist bloc.

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Venezuela’s ruling Socialist Party has long been a strong ally of Rousseff’s Workers Party, especially during the rule of her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

“I have no doubt that behind this coup is the label ‘made in USA,’” President Nicolas Maduro said in a speech on state TV.

“Powerful oligarchic, media and imperial forces have decided to finish with the progressive forces, the popular revolutionary leaderships of the left in the continent,” he said.

Even though bilateral relations have been cooler during Maduro’s three-year rule than those of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, Rousseff’s departure is still a big disappointment to Venezuela’s leaders.

They already lost one major ally in the neighborhood with the end of Peronism in Argentina and the election of conservative Mauricio Macri as Argentina’s president in late 2015.

Centrist Vice President Michel Temer has taken over as Brazil’s interim president for the duration of a Senate trial that could take up to six months. The Senate voted early on Thursday to put Rousseff on trial on charges she disguised the size of the budget deficit to make the economy look healthier in the run-up to her 2014 re-election.

“The coup in Brazil is a grave and dangerous sign for the future stability and peace of all the continent. I know they’re coming for Venezuela now,” said Maduro, 53, who faces an opposition push to oust him this year via a recall referendum.

A Venezuelan government statement earlier said Rousseff was the victim of “judicial farces.”

Though events in Brazil have deprived Venezuela of a major ally, the Maduro administration still enjoys the friendship of leftist governments in Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua.

Some of Venezuela’s opposition leaders had professed admiration for Lula’s political and economic model in Brazil, but have been quiet on his successor’s tribulations.

Pro-opposition blog Caracas Chronicles, however, welcomed Rousseff’s fall as another blow to the region’s “pink tide” of leftist governments.

“In the last few years, Venezuela could count on the governments of Argentina and Brazil to lend their considerable diplomatic weight to defending it from its accusers,” it said.

“Now, both countries have turned, and together with Colombia – never a friend of ‘Chavismo’ – the three largest countries in the continent view Venezuela with disdain, if not outright shock.”

Additional reporting and writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Leslie Adler