Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Venezuela and Spanish Politics

Like the anti-Castroists living in Miami, there are many ‘exiled’ anti-Maduro Venezuelans living, usually in some comfort, in Spain. They are right to excoriate the Revolución Bolivar (although Hugo Chávez had his moments), and Venezuela, thanks to rock-bottom oil prices (96% of the country’s exports is oil) and the ineptitude of the Venezuelan Government (a video from comedian John Oliver explains) is in collapse. The current president Nicolás Maduro is out of his depth; before his ascent to power, he was a bus driver (Wiki).
Why is this of interest to a news-letter about Spain? - Because the Podemos hierarchy has been identified with Venezuela and its disastrous policies. Chávez is said to have financed Podemos (now the even larger Unidos Podemos) or its predecessor CEPS (for some unexplained reason) and several past visits to Venezuela and sightings of Pablo Iglesias (and others) with the Venezuelan revolutionary leaders must have some basis in fact.
A visit to Caracas just last week by the President of Ciudadanos Albert Rivera (following another recent visit – from ex-PSOE leader José Luis Zapatero), in Spain’s pre-election period, was without doubt a political act, although whether this was a Ciudadanos initiative or one from the Partido Popular is still unclear.
Much, therefore, has been written in the Spanish media about Venezuela, identified strongly – and negatively – in the mind of the electorate with Podemos. An editorial from El País (in English here) is titled: ‘Venezuela and Spain’s general election. The main political parties are making their positions clear about the crisis in the South American country’. The editorial calls for Podemos to ‘own up’ to whatever relationship they have with Maduro. ‘There is a terrible violation of human rights in Venezuela’, says the Partido Popular here.  
Indeed, so much ink has been spilt on this subject, some people might wonder if the upcoming vote is for Spain or somehow for Venezuela. The respected journalist Iñaki Gabilondo (in a video) thinks that the Spanish election could be won or lost in Venezuela: ‘...let’s talk more about Spain, and less about distractions and rumour...’, he says. 200,000 Spaniards live in Venezuela, so Spain’s concerns are reasonable – but how much truth are we offered?  A story in the ABC, suddenly removed (after it had already gone viral) shows a Spanish businessman in Caracas, posing in a supermarket in a recent photograph taken in a wealthy part of the city. The shelves are full.
Business over Tapas editorial 2 June 2016

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