Venezuela’s President slammed for salsa dancing as country faces crisis

Updated 1:57 PM EDT, Thu November 3, 2016
00:39 - Source: CNN
Venezuelan President Maduro dances during crisis

Story highlights

Venezuela's embattled leader launches a radio show as nation faces recession

"Salsa Hour" drew praise from supporters and swift criticism from opponents

(CNN) —  

He’s made fiery speeches. He’s boosted his country’s minimum wage four times this year. And he’s vowed opponents won’t succeed in removing him from power.

Now Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is taking a new tack as he tries to negotiate his way out of a mounting political crisis.

He’s dancing.

Maduro, who’s been in office since 2013 and faces calls for a recall referendum to end his presidency, launched a new radio show Tuesday. Dubbed “La Hora de la Salsa” (Salsa Hour), the program will air daily on weekdays and touch on musical, cultural and political themes, officials said.

As the first episode aired, government officials posted videos and photos on social media, showing Maduro salsa dancing with his wife in the radio studio.

Tareck El Aissami, governor of Venezuela’s Aragua state and a staunch ally of Maduro, said on Twitter that the image sends a clear message: “We are HAPPINESS and REVOLUTION!!”

But the move drew swift criticism from opponents, who flooded social media with their own posts, accusing Maduro of being a dictator who dances while his country crumbles.

“Rich! Maduro dancing salsa, losing time on a radio program and people die without medicines, families search for their daily food in the trash,” one Caracas resident wrote.

Tensions have been mounting in Venezuela, which is edging closer to a breaking point as it faces a recession, soaring food prices and broken hospitals. Opponents have pushed for a recall referendum to remove Maduro from power, but courts shot down the effort last month, alleging voter identity fraud.

Maduro met with opposition leaders for the first time in two years on Sunday in talks facilitated by the Vatican and several other parties. But some members of the opposition have refused to participate in the talks, accusing the government of using them to diffuse protests.

Talks are scheduled to resume next week. Meanwhile, Maduro has pinned a post about the salsa show to the top of his Twitter feed.

“I rang in November with joy and dancing a little bit…Nobody will take away our right of happiness,” he wrote. “We are winning.”

CNN’s Julia Jones contributed to this report.