Diosdado Cabello
Diosdado Cabello, a senior figure in the Maduro government AFP

Diosdado Cabello, a top figure in the Venezuelan government, had strong words for Colombian Foreign Minister Luis Gilberto Murillo for talking about a "transition" in the country ahead of the July presidential elections.

"If you have something to say about a transition, Murillo, say it, speak about transition again, see what happens. You'll cover your ears because I'll be assertive," said Cabello during an edition of his TV show, which runs in the state channel.

Cabello also accused the Colombian official of "working" for the United States government and described him as a "puppy of the empire." "He's the Colombian Foreign Minister but works for the U.S. government," he said.

The clash began after Murillo said Bogotá wants a "smooth transition" in Venezuela after the elections, in which president Nicolás Maduro is currently trailing opposition candidate Edmundo González Urrutia, according to the latest polls.

He also said Colombia hopes the process is "fair, of course competitive and free." "We expect it to be, at least, an acceptable process," Murillo added. Asked about Cabello's words, the official said they "don't make sense" and that the Colombian government "won't answer to provocations from elsewhere, as sometimes they're interested in creating conflict."

Cabello is no stranger to such controversies, tying political opponents with the U.S. in an attempt to delegitimize them. He has called González Urrutia "the candidate of imperialism," saying that his proposals revolve around "asking for more sanctions and blockades" against Venezuela.

"The people are not dumb anymore, they know who the enemy is, who is behind or alongside the enemy," he said during a public appearance. He added that the PSUV, the government's party, will "carry out a series of rallies around Venezuela" to prepare a "great victory" in the elections.

The Colombian government is set to play a relevant role in the electoral process, with president Gustavo Petro among the few regional figures who has frequent dialogue with the Maduro government.

Petro recently asked Maduro and the opposition to work in a proposal to make certain guarantees to the losing party, their integrity and lives among them. "It has do to with a referendum in the upcoming, fair elections. It would guarantee the losing party certainty regarding their lives and rights," Petro said back then.

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