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Spain Lodges Protest with Venezuela after President Calls Nation ‘Racists’

The Spanish government has lodged a formal complaint with Venezuela’s ambassador to Madrid after President Nicolás Maduro accused Spanish President Mariano Rajoy of being a “racist” in a national broadcast, adding, “In Spain, they are all racists.”

Venezuelan Ambassador Mario Ricardo Isea was summoned to the Spanish Foreign Ministry on Wednesday to receive a formal complaint from the government. “To accuse a government, a politician, a party, or an entire [legislative] chamber for defending liberty and plurality in democracies is absolutely out of line,” said Secretary of Foreign Relations for the Courts José Luis Ayllón.

The Venezuelan president lashed out at Spain after the Spanish Parliament passed legislation urging the socialist Maduro regime to release its political prisoners, including opposition party leader Leopoldo López, who was arrested in February 2014 for organizing a peaceful protest against Maduro. In addition to López, the mayor of western regional capital, San Cristóbal, and the mayor of the national capital, Caracas, have been arrested for expressing disagreement with the socialist government. Maduro accused both of being involved in a conspiracy to overthrow him.

Maduro broadcast his response to the Spanish government on Tuesday, describing the Spanish government as a “rotten elite” that “maggots flee from” and Rajoy, personally, as a “racist.”

In Spain, they are all racists,” he added, warning, “I am ready for the battle against Madrid.” He also threatened to go “on a tour of Spain and announce my candidacy for president,” even though Spain is run under a parliamentary system where non-members of the legislature cannot campaign for the top spot.

In the video, Maduro accuses Rajoy of being “behind every nefarious plot against Venezuela,” a title he had previously conferred to American Vice President Joe Biden. He has also called for “an exhaustive review” of diplomatic relations between Venezuela and Spain, confirmed by a meeting between Venezuela’s foreign minister and the Spanish ambassador to Caracas.

Maduro has been conspicuously silent on alleged coup attempts orchestrated by the American government since the Summit of Americas last weekend, when President Obama shook his hand and engaged in what Maduro described as a “cordial” encounter. Maduro also failed to mention a petition he had begun circulating in March against President Obama, calling for the United States to lift sanctions on major Venezuelan political figures believed to be responsible for hundreds of human rights violations. Maduro had previously promised to deliver the petition to President Obama personally.

Spanish political figures have been increasingly vocal in condemning human rights abuses in Venezuela. Former Spanish President Felipe González has personally taken it upon himself to defend López and Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma in Venezuela’s courts. This prompted Maduro to immediately accuse González of spearheading a coup attempt against him.

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