Argentine soccer legend Maradona says he is a 'soldier' for
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[August 09, 2017]
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - With
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro facing criticism from around
Latin America and the world amid a deepening political crisis,
Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona said he was willing to fight
for the embattled leftist regime.
"We are chavistas until death," Maradona wrote on his official
Facebook page on Monday night, using a term to refer to supporters
of late former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
"When Maduro orders, I am dressed as a soldier for a free Venezuela,
to fight against the imperialism and those who want to take our
flags, which is the most sacred thing we have.
"Long live the revolution!!!" he wrote in a post in English, Spanish
The defiant declaration brought a quick response from Maradona's
former team mate on the national side, Mario Kempes.
Kempes, who was top goalscorer when Argentina won the 1978 World
Cup, called Maradona out on twitter.
"@DiegoMaradona how can you support the death of 124 young people
who defended liberty and democracy in their country," Kempes, now a
commentator with ESPN, wrote.
"NO TO THE DICTATORSHIP!
The spat came just days after regional trade bloc Mercosur suspended
Venezuela indefinitely, accusing Maduro of human rights violations
and urging him to dismantle a newly created pro-government
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Maduro has lost allies around the region as several
governments, including Argentina and Brazil, shifted to the right in
Maradona, who led Argentina to the World Cup title in 1986 and is
widely considered one of the greatest players of all-time, is
well-known for supporting leftist politicians in Latin America and
was a friend of late Cuban leader Fidel Castro, whose face is
tattooed on his leg.
His post prompted a critical response from Venezuelan opposition
leader Henrique Capriles.
"If Maradona wants to come, I will personally go pick him up at the
airport and show him around so he can see the situation in
Venezuela," Capriles told an Argentine radio station on Tuesday.
"The so-called revolution is indefensible."
Venezuela is suffering the worst crisis of its recent history, with
triple-digit inflation and shortages of food and medicine.
(Reporting by Maximiliano Rizzi and Eliana Raszewski; Writing by Luc
Cohen; Editing by Bill Trott and Andrew Hay)
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