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What do Donald Trump and Hugo Chavez have in common?

Some elements of President Trump's reelection campaign, and the use of federal government resources to promote his candidacy are similar to the manipulations of 'Chavismo', the political movement that came to power in Venezuela two decades ago.
29 Oct 2020 – 05:47 PM EDT
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The Trump administration has adopted a hard line against the socialist government in Venezuela, offering a $15 million reward for the arrest of President Nicolas Maduro and slapping sanctions on many of his officials.

The decision by the United States – and 50 other countries – to refuse to recognize Maduro as president, alleging that his reelection in 2018 was based on fraud, has earned Trump substantial support from parts of the Venezuelan opposition in their effort to oust him from power.

But while Trump tries to disqualify his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, by branding him as a “socialist,” his campaign has used some of the very same tools used by Chavismo, the populist movement led by former president Hugo Chavez until his death in 2013.

While the differences between the U.S. and Venezuelan political systems are profound and fundamental – including the independence of the three U.S. government branches and the electoral college – there are interesting similarities worth pointing out.

Trump has repeatedly used federal government programs to promote his reelection, such as a personal letter included in the checks for $1,200 sent to taxpayers earlier this year as part of a coronavirus rescue package.

Following is a look at some of their similarities:

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