'Good luck, America,' Venezuela opposition leader says after Trump win

Jesus Torrealba (R), secretary of Venezuela's coalition of opposition parties (MUD), talks to the media during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela November 2, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s main opposition spokesman on Wednesday wished the United States “all the luck in the world” after Donald Trump won the presidency, and suggested America could find itself facing problems that currently beset the South American nation.

Trump’s campaign style of picking fights and lobbing insults has drawn comparisons to late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, who won repeated elections but faced criticism for stifling dissent and creating a state-led economy now mired in crisis.

“We come from this disaster - the fantasy of politics driven by a single leader, these hegemonic and totalitarian projects,” Jesus Torrealba, spokesman for the opposition’s Democratic Unity coalition, said in a statement.

“(Now) others appear to be heading toward that cliff,” he said, adding that U.S. institutions “will be put to the test.”

The government of President Nicolas Maduro, who was elected in 2013 to replace Chavez, congratulated the Republican U.S. candidate on his victory in a statement on Wednesday, while insisting the two nations needed to maintain respectful bilateral relations.

Maduro and opposition leaders are currently in a Vatican-mediated dialogue process meant to ease a simmering political confrontation after electoral authorities last month effectively scuttled an effort to recall the unpopular president.

Low oil prices and dysfunctional economic regulations have left Venezuelans spending hours in supermarket lines to obtain basic goods in a situation of spiraling inflation, leaving millions unable to eat three meals per day.

The government of President Barack Obama has engaged Maduro in cautious diplomacy, sending a top diplomat to Caracas to help the dialogue process despite Maduro’s frequent accusations that Washington is plotting against him.

Trump in a speech in Miami in September promised to support oppressed people in the hemisphere, and during the campaign had said Democratic rival Hillary Clinton would turn the United States into Venezuela.

Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Jonathan Oatis