Spain, one of the countries that gave support to the so-called “interim government” of Juan Quito, decided to normalize its relations with Venezuela and returned to recognize the decree of President Nicolás Maduro. Spanish diplomat Ramon Santos Martínez presented his diplomatic credentials to the Venezuelan president last Tuesday (24) and was formally sworn in as the European country’s new ambassador.
The law ended more than two years in which Madrid was without a top diplomatic representative in Venezuela, maintaining its diplomatic operations with only a caretaker.
Venezuela’s decision in late December to end Gaido’s fictitious “interim presidency” was a push for Spain to leave the list of countries supporting the “interim” in contrast to the United States and the United Kingdom. It decided not to recognize Maduro, retaining support for the opposition-controlled parallel National Assembly.
to Brazil indeedVenezuelan political scientist William Serafino explains that the Spanish posture is a response to “Venezuela’s new political reality”, in which Guaidó and his allies are increasingly weakened and isolated.
“Spain does not want to be left behind in the face of this new political structure, which means that the truth brings them back to earth, so they are forced to recognize Maduro. And, unlike other countries, the UK and the United States, Spain is looking for a kind of intervention, an act of acceptance with a proposal before the government. “Looks for form, but not for conflict,” he says.
On Sunday (29), a group of protesters linked to Guaidó met with Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Alvarez in Madrid. The purpose of the visit, according to one of the former Venezuelan representatives who attended the meeting, is to ask the Spanish government not to normalize relations with Venezuela. Via Twitter, Álvarez confirmed the meeting and said Spain would support dialogue between the government and the opposition.
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Serafino also highlights the way the Spanish government once again endorsed Maduro without a formal announcement or at least a foreign policy review report.
“This decision seems to be something ethical, administrative, bureaucratic, because it is a way to reduce the political costs of a formal system. That is, they ignored a formal president and joined the campaign of economic sanctions, and cooperated in compliance. These sanctions, now they treat it as a mere exchange of documents. , they also treat it as a simple presentation of diplomatic credentials so that no one notices that they are taking a sudden turn in foreign policy,” he says.
Tension and breakdown
The apparently peaceful approach adopted by Madrid in recent weeks is different from the diplomatic and political tensions that have developed over the past four years, since in January 2019, the country decided to recognize the “self-proclamation” of Quito as “president”. In April of the same year, the former deputy and leader of the opposition led a coup attempt.
Guido attempted to capture the military airbase of La Carlota, east of Caracas, with rebel troops from the Bolivarian National Guard, who joined the coup movement. In the first hours of the attempt, as loyalists and coup forces clashed, opposition leader Leopoldo López escaped house arrest and took to the streets with Guaidó to lead the coup attempt.
When the movement failed, López hid in the Spanish embassy with the approval of then-ambassador Jesus Silva. A year later, in October 2020, the opponent irregularly left Venezuela with Madrid as his final destination.
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At the time, the Venezuelan government accused Spain and its ambassador of being “active accomplices” in Lopez’s escape. “The Kingdom of Spain actively participates in the illegal escape of a dangerous criminal and decides to receive him within its territory without complying with international laws, including Spanish immigration laws and bilateral agreements on justice,” the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry condemned at the time. year.
In April 2021, the Venezuelan public prosecutor’s office asked the country’s Supreme Court to begin the process of handing over the enemy to the Spanish government. In May of the same year, a Venezuelan judge formally asked the Spanish government to extradite López. The process has since stalled.
In Venezuela, Leopoldo López is considered a fugitive by the judiciary after serving five of the 14 years he was sentenced in 2014 for participating in and organizing the so-called “quarimbas.” In overthrowing the government. About 40 people were killed in these actions and some of the tactics involved raids and arson of public buildings and headquarters of left-wing parties.
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According to William Serafino, it is unlikely that the recent reconciliation between Venezuela and Spain will facilitate the progress of the López extradition process, mainly because of the political costs that such a move would bring to the Spanish government. Spain is due to hold regional and national elections later this year, and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is under pressure from the possibility of right-wing and far-right parties forming a coalition to defeat him in the polls.
“I don’t think Sánchez, who ultimately has to make a decision like that, risks facing people who are really interested in the image of Leopoldo, who is a popular party. [de direita]Vox [de extrema direita], [a governadora de Madri] Isabel Diaz Ayuzo. Electoral forecasts in Spain are not good, so Sanchez has little room for political maneuvering to cooperate with the judiciary and hand over Leopoldo López, which will be a political firestorm, at least in the media, and I think it will do a lot for him. Harm in this pre-election environment”, affirmed.
If, on the one hand, the normalization of relations between Venezuela and Spain is considered a victory for the diplomacy of the South American country, on the other hand, economic interests can also explain the resumption of relations, especially in Western Europe due to the Ukraine war during the energy crisis.
Since the beginning of the conflict, the West has been giving positive signals in the sense of reintegrating Venezuela into the gaps of global dialogue and trade, citing the possibility of suspending sanctions to re-introduce Venezuelan oil to the European market.
The first approval came precisely from the United States, when Venezuela’s state-owned PTVSA allowed Spain’s Repsol to supply oil again through a license, but only as part of paying off a debt owed to the European company. The deals were short-lived, as PDVSA insisted that the exchange of heavy oil for fuels and derivatives would be more favorable.
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For Miguel James, a doctor in oil geopolitics, conditions are increasingly favorable for the reintegration of Venezuelan energy production into Western markets, especially given the urgency Europe is experiencing. “There is no good and bad in politics, there is the economy and in this case the interests of the oil companies. It is interesting that Venezuela opens different options with other countries and vice versa, so I believe in it. It is right that the Europeans want to be closer to the oil supplying countries,” he says. Brazil indeed.
The return of Chevron’s operations in Venezuela, which the United States granted through a new license under its sanctions policy, marks the return of a major Western company to the country. In an interview BloombergPierre Breber, the energy company’s finance director, said that since November, when the company received the permit, the combined plants working with PDVSA have increased heavy oil production by 80%, reaching 90,000 barrels per day.
With Chevron’s lead, the Venezuelan government hopes to reach similar deals to attract other foreign companies, such as Spanish Repsol. For James, Madrid has the potential to be an ally in this wave of foreign companies returning to Venezuela.
“In my opinion, Spain is one of the countries that has deep ties and makes the most strategic moves with Venezuela. That is why we can assume, very clearly and precisely, that Spain will play an important role in us. The country and, inserted in it, its oil company, which is deeply, the Spanish government to connect at this time Curious”, he says.
Editing: Thales Schmidt
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