Two peas in a pod, these guys. Via Syria’s state news agency (h/t NRO):

President Bashar al-Assad expressed Syria’s support to the approach of the Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro in running Venezuela ”that he draws from the world heritage principles and the historical legacy of Latin America’s great leaders.”

In a letter he sent to the Venezuelan President on Wednesday, President al-Assad expressed the Syrian people’s solidarity with President Maduro and the Venezuelan people in the face of the “ferocious onslaught that is replayed today in several safe and stable countries, in an attempt to whip up chaos, spread foreign hegemony and seize the riches of these countries and their sensitive geopolitical positions.”

President al-Assad voiced Syria’s support to the ”road of peace charted by President Maduro in Venezuela,” wishing him success in shouldering the uphill tasks assigned to him at a critical stage the world is passing through.”

If I was going to write up a parody letter pretending to express solidarity from one villainous authoritarian to another, this is pretty much exactly what it would sound like. Applauding a fellow dictator for drawing from the “historical legacy of Latin America’s great leaders,” like, say, Chavez, Castro, and Che Guevara? Defying reality and deceitfully labeling a country with egregious inflation and outrageous murder rates “safe and stable”? Asserting that a corrupted, impenetrable government and the deteriorating rule of law is charting a “road of peace”? Check, check, and check. Really, these tyrants are like caricatures of themselves.

At least five people have now been killed in Venezuela’s massive student protests, and the latest death is that of a young former beauty queen. The tragedy is likely to fuel the same outrage that helped to ignite the protests when the highway murder of another young beauty queen last month put a spotlight on Venezuela’s murder and crime rates (to which Maduro oh-so-helpfully responded that he would crack down on “violence in soap operas,” gee whiz). Via Reuters:

Venezuelan security forces and demonstrators faced off in streets blocked by burning barricades in several cities on Thursday in an escalation of protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government, witnesses said. …

The demonstrators, mainly students, blame the government for violent crime, high inflation, product shortages and alleged repression of opponents.

In affluent east Caracas overnight, security forces fired teargas and bullets, chasing youths who threw Molotov cocktails and blocked streets with burning trash, witnesses said. …

The latest direct victim of the unrest was a college student and local beauty queen, Genesis Carmona, 22, shot in the head during a demonstration in the central city of Valencia.