Venezuela’s Second-in-Command: ‘Chavismo’ Alive and Well in Greece, Spain

Reuters/Jorge Silva
Reuters/Jorge Silva

Diosdado Cabello, the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly and second-in-command to President Nicolás Maduro, proclaimed the victory of the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza) in Greece and the popularity of the leftist Podemos party in Spain to be victories for “Chavismo,” making appearances “all around the world.”

In a speech commemorating Hugo Chávez’s failed coup against democratically elected leaders in 1992, Cabello insisted that Chavismo is alive and well– not just in Venezuela, but in Europe, as well.

“There you see what happened in Greece,” he explained, “there you see what will happen in Spain sooner rather than later. That is Chavismo, traveling around the whole world.”

Cabello predicted a revolt against the “bourgeoisie” later in the speech.

Syriza, the Greek leftist party led by now-Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, is referred to often by the mainstream media as a primarily “anti-austerity” party. It has, in fact, begun its tenure with characteristic belligerence towards the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, refusing to negotiate on their campaign promises to not comply with austerity measures required as part of their bailout deal with both institutions. The party’s leftism does not stop at economics, however; Syriza has received praise from the Palestinian terror organization Hamas and made overtures to the Putin regime in Russia.

Spain has not made as hard left a turn as Greece. While Podemos has polled at around 30%– extraordinarily well for a somewhat new third party– it has not seen the same surge in support as Syriza did in Greece. For one, Spain’s economy simply isn’t in as much danger as Greece’s of calamity. The Spanish right has also been more firm in warning against taking such a hard left political turn. Just this week, the nation’s Budget Minister scolded Greece’s government for signaling that it would not respect EU rules “as we did” when Spain received bailout money.

In addition to using the speech to co-opt leftist victories in Europe for the benefit of his party, Cabello addressed grave accusations against his person regarding his involvement in and alleged leadership of the famed Cartel de los Soles, a drug cartel specializing in the traffic of cocaine from Venezuela to the United States and other parts of Latin America. “The attacks are not against me,” Cabello insisted, “but against the people… Those attacks don’t do anything but strengthen our will to keep struggling,” he asserted.

Cabello’s biggest challenge is that the accusation comes not from American officials or outsiders, but from Chávez’s former head of security, also formerly Cabello’s head of security. Leamsy Salazar is currently in exile and ready to testify in New York court against Cabello. Should the accusations prove true, Europe’s leftist parties could do with a more respectable ally than Cabello.