MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — Former Uruguayan President Jose Mujica says embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is "crazy as a goat."
Mujica, a leftist who governed in 2010-2015, made the comment Wednesday during a news conference when asked about a dispute between Maduro and Luis Almargo, the Uruguayan who heads the Organization of American States.
Almargo has called Maduro "a traitor." Venezuela's socialist president has in turn accused Almagro of being a CIA agent and a traitor himself.
"I have great respect for (Maduro), I do. But that does not mean I can't say he's crazy, crazy as a goat," said Mujica, whose cantankerous personality, homespun oratory and simple ways have made him wildly popular abroad.
Mujica has defended Almagro, saying he is not a traitor. But he acknowledged that he also has distanced himself from Almagro, who served as Mujica's foreign minister, because of his stance on Venezuela.
Venezuela is facing a severe economic crisis, with the world's highest inflation and shortages. Polls indicate most Venezuelans want Maduro out of office.
"I'm crazy as a goat, crazy in love with Venezuela," Maduro said late Thursday during an event, without naming Mujica.
He added that he's also crazy in love with the country's socialist "Bolivarian revolution" and the man who launched it: the late President Hugo Chavez
"It's true," said Maduro, who narrowly won the presidency in a 2013 election as Chavez's hand-picked successor. "I'm crazy as a goat."