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Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa on Thursday tweeted a slogan famous for praising Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.
Correa posted the controversial message after a Twitter critic accused him of being a fascist. The South American leader responded with a chant first heard in World War Two-era Germany.
“Heil Hitler!” Correa tweeted at @WKybalion on Thursday.
@WKybalion ¡Heil Hitler!— Rafael Correa (@MashiRafael) April 9, 2015
The Ecuadorian leader’s remark almost instantly gained attention from his 2.12 million Twitter followers. Correa may have intended it as a sarcastic comeback to @Wkybalion’s charges of authoritarianism.
Vox reported Friday that the spat began over social media comments made by other Latin American politicians. Former Ecuadorian President Osvaldo Hurtado is said to have started the fracas by uploading footage of a recent speech where he called Correa a “typical fascist.”
Guillermo Cochez, Panama’s former representative to the Organization of American States, then retweeted that portion of Hurtado’s remarks. Other users then latched onto the one-liner, forcing Correa’s incendiary response.
Correa first became Ecuador’s leader in 2007. The strongman has since earned a reputation for trolling foes on Twitter with insults and mockery.
The Washington Post reported television personality John Oliver found that out firsthand during an exchange with Correa last month. The host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” drew the Ecuadorian president’s ire after lampooning him in a segment first aired Feb. 9.
“Regarding John Oliver: too much noise for such little nuts,” Correa tweeted Feb. 12.
“Talk show hosts are more unfriendly than a diuretic,” he added.
Correa annoyed President Obama in June 2013 by demanding he pen a written request for alleged National Security Association leaker Edward Snowden.
Snowden tried fleeing to Ecuador over charges he betrayed U.S. secrets before ultimately settling in Russia the same year.