Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Saturday that the surge in Venezuelan migration is directly linked to the Canadian, European Union and the United States led economic and financial sanctions against the South American country.
"Like it always happens with economic sanctions that produce a financial blockade, who pays is not the government but the citizens, the people," Zapatero told EFE in an interview after participating in a forum in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
"I must say that the intensification of the growth in emigration these past months has much to do with the economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and that has been supported by some governments," Zapatero stressed.
U.S.-aligned nations and organizations have attributed what they call a "migratory crisis" to the Venezuelan government and President Nicolas Maduro, who they accuse of strangling the economy and holding on to "dictatorial" power.
The government, which was re-elected by a wide margin in May, has argued the economic crisis that is pushing Venezuelans responds are a series of hostile financial actions that have hampered the government's ability to buy essential goods, like medicine and food, and that have effectively strangled the country's finances by seizing their resources.
The former Spanish PM has backed dialogue between opposing political sectors in Venezuela as the only way to reach political and economic stability. His latest contribution to these efforts was his participation as a mediator in the failed rounds of peace dialogue hosted by the Dominican Republic.
Zapatero will soon travel to Venezuela to "see the situation" and "favor possible scenarios for dialogue in the immediate future."
In similar statements, ex-President of Uruguay Jose 'Pepe' Mujica also condemned the sanctions, claiming that "historical experience shows us that they only achieve a worsening of conditions for the weakest in society."
"Governments may be right, left, or centre, but what good did sanctions bring against Franco-led Spain? They only worsened things for the poor Spanish people, they did nothing to Franco, he died an old man in his bed. Economic sanctions don't affect governments, they hurt the poorest of the people," he added.
Sanctions are, he explained, a "prepotent and frankly imperialist act."
In a wide-reaching interview, the well-respected leftist commented on the imprisonment of Brazilian presidential candidate Lula Da Silva, the Argentinian economic crisis, and consumerism in Latin America.
He also spoke on the Venezuelan economic crisis, claiming that "What is happening in Venezuela is not the fault of Maduro. The oil wealth in Venezuela over time ended up constructing a type of venom for Venezuelan society, it deformed the economy and the Venezuelans got used to living off imported things... In the Venezuelan countryside, there is no-one, no cattle, nothing, people went to the cities and forgot their trades. In these conditions, when the oil crisis came about, Venezuela was left off footed as it has no internal production of food, and this cannot be sorted out by a magic trick."