Venezuela's Maduro gets rare boost with visit by Bolivian president

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (right) shaking hands with his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales during a meeting at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, on April 15, 2018.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (right) shaking hands with his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales during a meeting at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, on April 15, 2018. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Bolivia's President Evo Morales made a flying visit to Caracas for talks with embattled President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday (April 15), a month ahead of controversial polls set to give the socialist leader a second term.

Mr Morales' visit provided a rare international show of support for Mr Maduro in the wake of the Summit of the Americas in Lima last week, during which the United States and leaders from across Latin America warned the May 20 vote would lack legitimacy and credibility.

Venezuela's main opposition is boycotting the vote on the grounds that there are no guarantees that it will be free and fair.

The leftist Bolivian leader was received with full military honours at Mr Maduro's presidential palace.

"We are anti-imperialist and no one is going to blackmail us," Mr Morales said in a brief statement to reporters after the one-hour meeting.

"We revolutionaries are recognised by our peoples," Mr Morales said.

The May 20 poll would be "void of legitimacy and credibility" if it went ahead under current conditions, the Western Hemisphere nations said in a joint declaration released at the summit in Peru.

Mr Maduro was not invited to the summit, but Mr Morales defended him, condemning particularly the US sanctions against Mr Maduro's government and regretting his Venezuelan counterpart's absence, which he blamed on US pressure.

Mr Maduro is seeking a second six-year term despite his oil-rich country battling hyperinflation, scarcities of food and medicine, malnutrition and violence.