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Venezuela's leader vows crackdown will make Erdogan look like 'babe in arms'

Nicolas Maduro warns potential coup plotters to look to Turkey and the wide-ranging crackdown since a failed coup there
Venezuela's President Maduro during a visit to a sawmill on 18 August, 2016 (Reuters)

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has to make his Turkish counterpart President Recep Tayyip Erdogan look like a “babe in arms” if opponents in the South American country attempt a coup against him.

"Did you see what happened in Turkey?" Maduro asked at a televised public event on Thursday evening. "Erdogan will look like a babe in arms compared to what the Bolivarian revolution will do if the right-wing steps over the line with a coup,” he said, referring to a leftist social movement originally led by late populist president Hugo Chavez.

Since an abortive military coup on 15 July, Erdogan's government has detained, suspended or placed under investigation more than 60,000 people in the military, judiciary, civil service and education, as well as shutting down several newspapers.

On Friday, Turkish authorities arrested dozens of academics accused of backing self-exiled cleric Fetullah Gulen, accused of masterminding the coup attempt from his home in the US. 

Venezuela's former president Chavez fended off an opposition-backed coup attempt in 2002 and since then leaders of the crisis-hit country have frequently accused opponents of seeking to seize power by force.

Venezuela is facing a severe economic crisis caused by the fall in global oil prices, with high inflation leaving previously middle-class families going hungry or having to queue for hours to buy staple goods such as bread and rice. Consumer-price inflation is forecast to reach 480 percent this year and more than four times that in 2017, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Tens of thousands of people recently fled into neighbouring Colombia over a 24-hour period when the frontier was opened earlier this month.

Maduro is accused of mismanaging the situation and failing to find alternative sources of funding for the Venezuelan economy, and is facing plunging popularity even among loyal supporters of former president Chavez, his former mentor.

The opposition plans a huge march in the capital Caracas on 1 September to demand a recall referendum aimed at cutting short Maduro's six-year term, due to end in 2019.