Venezuelan officials reported Saturday that Twitter has suspended about 180 accounts linked to the government of President Nicolás Maduro following a diplomatic flare–up between Maduro and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.
Speaking during a televised rally over the weekend, Maduro promised to open “10,000 or more” Twitter accounts to keep alive his “battle” to stay in power, Reuters reported.
Citing Venezuelan Information Minister Ernesto Villegas, Reuters said the last tweet sent by one account, @miraflores_TV, included comments criticizing Pence after the U.S. vice president accused the Venezuelan government of authoritarianism during a speech delivered to Central American leaders in Miami.
“We need only look to the nation of Venezuela to see what happens when democracy is undermined,” Pence said, according to CNN. “That once rich nation’s collapse into authoritarianism has pushed it into poverty and caused untold suffering for the Venezuelan people. We must all raise our voices to condemn the Venezuelan government for its abuse of power and abuse of its own people and we must do it now.”
The White House later issued a statement saying, “The United States stands with the people of Venezuela during these sad and troubling times for their country.”
In response, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez accused Pence of hypocrisy, saying, “[Pence] dares to condemn democracy in Venezuela without noting that the U.S. does not respect or govern by the will of the people,” VenezuelaAnalysis.com reported.
On Twitter, Rodríguez called Pence “an insolent imperialist.”
Maduro also took a shot a Pence, saying it “provokes nausea that a man who doesn’t know where Venezuela is on the map gives his opinion about our country.”
He continued: “I tell the vice president of the United States, get your nose out of Venezuela, there will be no gringo, Yankee, imperialist intervention in Venezuela.”
The Venezuelan president then urged a pro–government journalist to publish photos of Twitter managers in Venezuela, Reuters reported, adding that it’s unclear whether Twitter actually has staff in the South American country.
Twitter’s Help Center states that accounts may be suspended for “abusive tweets or behavior,” which includes “sending threats to others.” Twitter did not respond to a Reuters request for information regarding the account suspensions.