By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- Venezuela said Thursday it was expelling Jesus Silva Fernandez, the Spanish Ambassador to Caracas for “continued aggression and recurring acts of meddling” by Spain in Venezuelan domestic matters.
Chavista diplomacy went the extra mile, calling Silva “persona No Grata”, capitalized like that in the original Venezuelan Foreign Ministry press release. Mario Isea, Maduro’s ambassador to Madrid, was called for consultations Wednesday by Caracas.
Spain backed Tuesday’s European Union sanctions against top Maduro regime officials, who are now denied entry into Europe, among other measures. The U.S. and Canada have already ordered extensive sanctions against dozens of current and former Venezuelan government officials, including Maduro himself.
Maduro is trying to convince the world that he can hold free and fair Presidential elections in an environment marked by heavy-handed repression (police killed members of an anti-Maduro group only 10 days ago), political prisoners and continued diplomatic conflict with Colombia, Spain the United States and any country that dares criticize the oil-poor nation’s government.
As a matter of fact, all three countries mentioned above now only have relationships with Venezuela at a charge d’affaires level: the U.S. ambassador was expelled by Chavez a decade ago and Colombia decided to withdraw its top envoy to Caracas on Tuesday.
The Bolivarian Revolution’s relationship with Spain, the country some Venezuelans still call “La Madre Patria” (the motherland), is, at the least, complicated.
Chavez built an entire political persona on denouncing Spanish colonial rule (which ended around 1810), as if it had happened last year. In a twist of irony, two of Maduro's top advisors both hail from Spain: Former Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and economist Alfredo Serrano.
The Venezuelan communique announcing Silva’s expulsion also blasts Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, saying he is receiving “infamous instructions” from U.S. President Donald Trump and “submits himself to his designs regarding Venezuela, committing himself to assuming the leadership of the conspiracy (as Maduro calls domestic and international efforts to democratize Venezuela) against the Venezuelan people with his European partners in exchange of unspeakable political and economic benefits for the particular profit of a part of the elite that rules Spain.”
Only the first paragraph of the seven in the Venezuelan communique deal with Silva’s expulsion. The other six are a long attack on Rajoy, Spain and the European Union, tamed with a extolling of the virtues of the Bolivarian revolution.
Some 4 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 1999, when Maduro’s mentor and predecessor Hugo Chavez first took over, according to local consultancy Consultores 21. That is more than 10% of the country’s total population, estimated at 30 million-plus.
EU Council - Implementing Sanctions on 7 Venezuela Officials - 22 January 2018 by Latin American Herald Tribune on Scribd