In a new diplomatic showdown, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Thursday issued another warning to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whom he has accused in the past of belonging to an international conspiracy seeking his ouster.
“Think about it, Rajoy. Anyone who messes with [Simón] Bolívar’s or [late President Hugo] Chávez’s revolution will get burned,” Maduro said.
In April, Spain’s Congress approved a non-binding motion in which it condemned the jailing of the two – a move that prompted Madrid to briefly call back its ambassador to Caracas after Maduro branded Rajoy as “corrupt,” “racist” and “the godfather” to the opposition.
For months, the Venezuelan leader has said that conspirators in Madrid, Bogotá and Miami are concocting a plan to remove him from office. He has also specifically pointed to former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar and the conservative Popular Party (PP).
He made his latest attacks during an international congress held at the National Library in Caracas and broadcast live on television. The Inventing Democracy in the 21st Century meeting included panel discussions by 36 intellectuals from 13 countries – including Spain – and around 250 Venezuelan political activists.
Maduro claimed that the attacks against Venezuela made by Madrid politicians had heightened “because the election campaign for prime minister in Spain has already begun.”
Attacks on Venezuela have heightened because the race to become prime minister has begun, Maduro said
General elections are scheduled for November.
“The first thing the conservative right does is attack us,” he said.
Maduro also referred to former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González, who has announced his intention to help in the legal defense of jailed opposition leader López.
He said that he would not allow “our social, political and economic life to be subject to the dictates” of González – whom he said was known “as a figurine around here.”
“In general, these former prime ministers are usually discredited. They don’t even want them in their own countries, and then they come over here to disturb us.”
In April, the Venezuelan attorney general said that under the country’s law González cannot form part of López’s legal team.
Maduro also accused Spanish news agency EFE of agreeing to join “the international campaign” against his administration. He said that the official news agency had refocused its coverage from reporting on human rights issues to “attacking the local monetary unit” with its explicit comparisons with the US dollar and other foreign currencies in the black market.
The Venezuelan leader similarly took a jab at European Parliament President Martin Schulz, a German social democrat who recently told EFE that he was concerned about the political situation in Venezuela.
“I’ll bet if you show him a map and ask him where Venezuela is, he would get confused and point to Burundi,” Maduro said.
“Mr Schulz, you need to pay more attention to growing poverty in Europe, and to the thousands of Africans who, because of the fault of European colonialism, are now trying to reach Europe where they are locked up in concentration camps reminiscent of Nazi Germany.”