Latin America

Venezuela to announce “political and economic” measures against Spain

Diplomatic spat grows over Spanish lawmakers’ call to release Caracas opposition leaders

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.EFE

Venezuela warned Spain on Wednesday that it would conduct “an exhaustive review of bilateral relations” aimed at taking measures against Madrid as part of the latest diplomatic spat between the two countries, which erupted after Spanish lawmakers passed a non-binding motion calling for the release of Venezuelan opposition leaders.

These statements and insults do not contribute a minimum of bilateral understanding”

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez called in Spanish ambassador Antonio Pérez-Hernández to explain that the measures, which will be announced “shortly” by President Nicolás Maduro, will cover the political, economic, media and social sectors where both countries hold cooperation treaties.

The meeting at the Caracas Foreign Ministry came just hours after Mario Isea, the Venezuelan ambassador in Madrid, was summoned by Spanish officials, who complained about the insults that Maduro had hurled against Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy during a public television broadcast, which had included calling him a “racist.”

“These types of statements and insults do not contribute a minimum of understanding between our countries,” said Pablo Gómez de Olea, the ministry’s director for Ibero-American affairs.

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The tit-for-tat dispute ignited after the Spanish Congress passed a non-binding resolution calling for the immediate release of jailed Venezuelan opposition leaders, including Leopoldo López and Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, who are being held in a military prison outside the capital.

“The [Spanish parliament] should go and voice their opinions about their own mothers, but they should not be giving opinions about Venezuela,” Maduro said in response on Tuesday night. He also accused Rajoy of maneuvering with others to oust his government.

“Rajoy, your abuses have ended. I am preparing to do battle with Madrid. I have ordered an analysis of the assault taken against us by the corrupt elitists in Spain, and I will prepare a joint series of comprehensive responses,” Maduro said in his weekly television and radio broadcast.

Spain has a series of major business holdings in Venezuela, including interests owned by Telefónica, Repsol and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya.

Venezuelan opposition cheers Spanish deputies’ initiative

Alfredo Meza / Caracas

The opposition in Venezuela on Wednesday applauded the non-binding law passed by the major parties in the Spanish Congress that calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners in the South American country.

The ruling Popular Party (PP), plus the Socialists (PSOE), Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD), the Catalan nationalist CiU bloc, and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) all voted in favor of the measure.

“It is good that countries on the outside are looking at what happens here daily,” said Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, head of international relations for the opposition umbrella Democratic Unity Group (MUD).

Opposition deputy Carlos Berrizbeita believed that Maduro’s attack on Spain was aimed at taking attention away from a public controversy over US sanctions against seven government officials, which has lost steam in the local press.

“He is trying to hide the immense problems that Venezuelans are facing,” he said.

In her Twitter account, Lilian Tintori, Leopoldo López’s wife, wrote: “The Spanish deputies voted to demand the freedom of our political prisoners. Thank you!”

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