Spain recalled its ambassador to Venezuela on Friday in protest over President Nicolás Maduro’s latest insults aimed at the Spanish prime minister.
“A racist I call you, Rajoy; a colonialist I call you Rajoy; corrupt trash I call you Rajoy; Venezuela needs to be respected,” proclaimed Maduro during a Thursday march in Caracas to protest the amnesty law recently passed by the Venezuelan parliament, which is controlled by the opposition.
“Over in Spain they are scared because of the rise of an organization with a leadership of its own,” he added, in an apparent reference to the anti-austerity party Podemos, whose founders once worked for the Venezuelan regime under previous leader Hugo Chávez.
Despite the verbal attacks, the Caracas government has never gone through with its threat to target Spanish interests in the country
The Spanish Foreign Ministry has recalled Ambassador Antonio Pérez Hernández and expressed its displeasure to his Venezuelan counterpart in Madrid, Mario Isea.
This is not the first time that Spain has recalled its ambassador. It did so a year ago after Maduro accused Rajoy of supporting terrorism in Venezuela. And the country’s ambassador remained absent from Madrid for four months between October 2014 and February 2015.
In a release by the Diplomatic Information Office, the Spanish government “laments that this attitude, improper to the relations of respect due between governments, has become a habitual practice of the Venezuelan head of state.”
The release expresses concern for the situation in Venezuela, which is home to more than 200,000 Spaniards, and reiterates its “offer to help relieve the serious economic and humanitarian crisis being endured by the people of Venezuela.”
It is unclear what caused this latest verbal tirade against Rajoy. The last time that the Spanish leader mentioned Venezuela was on March 30, during the 80th birthday celebration of writer Mario Vargas Llosa, when he said that “change in Latin America will not be complete without freedom in Venezuela.”
Sign up for our newsletter!
EL PAÍS English Edition is launching a weekly newsletter. Sign up today to receive a selection of our best stories in your inbox every Saturday morning. For full details about how to subscribe, click here.
This is the fifth time that the Venezuelan ambassador to Spain has been called in to hear complaints about Maduro’s broadsides. On July 27, the Venezuelan president called Rajoy a “hitman of the people.”
On January 22, Spain asked for explanations regarding a trip made by members of Podemos, of the Catalan fringe party CUP and by relatives of ETA convicts on a Venezuelan air force plane.
Despite the verbal attacks, the Caracas government has never gone through with its threat to target Spanish interests in the country.
English version by Susana Urra.