CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s ruling socialists exulted over the fall of Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski with a fireworks display following months of enmity between the two governments.
Kuczynski, a 79-year-old former Wall Street banker who once held U.S. citizenship, has led Latin American criticism of President Nicolas Maduro’s government over rights and democracy, even banning him from attending a summit in Lima next month.
But he resigned on Wednesday in the face of near-certain impeachment over a graft investigation into his connections to Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company that has acknowledged bribing officials across Latin America.
“These fireworks are because someone is going! Goodbye PPK, farewell PPK!” boomed Socialist Party No. 2 Diosdado Cabello to a cheering crowd, using an acronym for Kuczynski’s full name, as fireworks went off overhead during a rally late on Wednesday.
“Here are some fireworks to remind the world - if you mess with Venezuela, you’re out!” he added in the event broadcast on his weekly TV show ‘Bashing with the Sledgehammer.’
Supporters chanted: “He’s gone, he’s gone!”
Despite Kuczynski’s fall, Maduro still faces strong opposition from most major nations around Latin America.
Peru’s new leader - Vice President Martin Vizcarra - may follow the same hard line on Venezuela as his predecessor.
Defying Peru’s ban, Maduro has vowed to be at the mid-April Summit of the Americas, which his biggest international critic - U.S. President Donald Trump - is also due to attend.
“I was looking forward to greeting him (Kuczynski) again. I thought he was going to welcome me, but he won’t be there, so when I arrive, who will receive me in Lima?” he said on state TV, musing: “Such is life.”
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez also laid into Peru’s outgoing president, calling him, on Twitter, a “self-styled imperialist lapdog” and “evil person” who was heading for the “rubbish bin of history.”
Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne, Corina Pons and Vivian Sequera; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Lisa Shumaker