Caracas, February 17th 2015 (Venezuelanalysis) Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez, has hit back at her Spanish counterpart, Jose Manuel García-Margallo, after he claimed that the country’s Maduro administration had “undemocratically” threatened Spanish businesses with expropriation.
Margallo made the comments following a meeting last week between the Venezuelan government and representatives from several powerful Spanish companies which do business in the South American country.
According to reports, high ranking officials in Venezuela’s Maduro administration told the businesses that unless they acted to halt the Spanish media’s smear campaign against the government, they would be forced to “take serious action”. Present at the meeting were delegates from enterprises such as Zara, Air Europa and Iberia airlines.
“In a democratic and lawful state… liberty of opinion and press are two unavoidable principles,” stated Margallo to Spanish newspaper, ABC, which regularly refers to the elected Maduro government as a “regime”.
The meeting with Spanish businesses takes place in the midst of a stepped up economic war, the discovery of a planned military coup by Venezuelan authorities last week and an intensified international media campaign against the country’s democratically elected socialist government. The Spanish press has been particularly vitriolic in its coverage of the Maduro administration since the rise of leftwing party, PODEMOS and its alleged support from Venezuela.
As a member of the conservative ruling “People’s Party” in Spain, Margallo went on to declare that the European country was “within its rights” to “protect its businesses”. Comments which provoked a passionate backlash from Venezuela’s first female chancellor.
“Foreign Minister Garcia-Margallo has forgotten that little mirrors are not tradable in this land of Liberty, homeland of Bolivar and Chavez,” she tweeted, making reference to when the Spanish invaded and looted the continent of its natural resources, in this particular instance, by exchanging mirrors for gold.
Rodriguez’s satirical riposte was tweeted to over 222,000 followers and made the headlines in Venezuela and beyond. She went on to accuse the Spanish Rajoy regime of hypocrisy, and described it as governing over a “country where bankers are saved with public money, without attending to the needs of the most socially vulnerable”.
“We have to give them a good few lessons on social issues and fundamental rights and liberties,” she added.
The Venezuelan Foreign Minister is not the only one to have called the Spanish government out for posturing on the issue.
“The attacks that Venezuela is being subjected to by the media would not be tolerated the same way in Spain… When attempts have been made to draw caricatures of the King of Spain, they have all been censured and have been banned from magazines,” stated the Spanish journalist and media analyst, Fernando Casado, in an interview with Venezuelan state TV channel, VTV.
The exchange between the chancellors appears to be indicative of an increasingly hostile relationship between the two countries. In October last year, Caracas officially recalled its ambassador from Madrid after Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, publicly questioned the South American country’s commitment to ensuring the right to peaceful protest. He had recently met with Lilian Tintori, wife of Venezuelan jailed opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, who led a series of deadly protests last year in an attempt to force the “exit” of the Maduro administration.
At the time, the Venezuelan government said its diplomatic ties to Spain were officially “under review”.