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The Surprising Loser of Podemos’ Defeat in Spain? Nicolás Maduro

By: Sabrina Martín - @SabrinaMartinR - Jun 30, 2016, 9:15 am
The close relation of Podemos and Maduro was a factor in Pablo Iglesias' defeat (PanAm Post)
The close relationship between Podemos and Maduro was a factor in Pablo Iglesias’ defeat (PanAm Post)

EspañolThe Podemos party of Spain and its leader Pablo Iglesias failed to reach second place in the legislative elections on Sunday, June 26, displacing the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE).

This not only meant failure for their leader Iglesias — who had created an alliance with the left-wing party Izquierda Unida to form the group “Unidos Podemos” — it also meant a defeat for the government of Venezuela and the “plans” former president Hugo Chávez left for the European country.

With 99.89 percent of votes reported, Podemos came in at third place. The center-right Popular Party led by Mariano Rajoy won the elections with 137 seats — 39 less than what’s needed for an absolute majority.

Iglesias, who acknowledged the results “aren’t satisfactory” announced the party will analyze and review the results with a cool head. He was the main European ally of Venezuela, his party not having joined the 501 deputies from the European Parliament that demanded respect for democracy and rule of law in Venezuela in early June.

To deceased Hugo Chávez, the Spanish leader was a student. Spanish press revealed that according to a former Venezuelan finance minister, potentially illicit financing for their campaign was received by Podemos from Venezuela.

During his campaign, the Podemos leader appealed to “country,” “heart” and the “smiles of a country” — all of these based in the emotional and populist messages of Hugo Chávez.

With this defeat, the chavista government was diminished, showing Nicolás Maduro’s support around the world is dwindling. According to Spanish analysts, Podemos was avoided by voters who didn’t want to see Spain fall into the same critical situation Venezuela currently faces.

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles said the election results were a defeat for President Nicolás Maduro.

Last week, the Organization for American States (OEA) approved in its Permanent Council the discussion of the crisis in Venezuela and the possibility of applying a democratic charter, which would mean suspending Venezuela from the organization.

The secret links with Venezuela were protagonists in the electoral campaign. Pedro Sánchez, the presidential candidate of PSOE said: “I hear people of Podemos ask why we talk about Venezuela. We do it because Venezuela came to Spanish politics with Iglesias.”

In the only debate between the four main candidates, leader of the liberal party Ciudadanos Albert Rivera was straightforward: “You don’t ask money from banks because you get money from Maduro’s government, seven million to the CEPS foundation.”

This statement was backed by documents published by the spanish press. These documents showed a payment of US $272,325 dollars to Pablo Iglesias through an offshore account.

The operation took place March 2014, two months after the foundation of Podemos. The payment was disguised as “consultations for the countries’ social development.”

It seems former president Hugo Chávez wanted to take his “Bolivarian Revolution” to Spain. He has also tried to do so in Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador — countries that are all strong allies to Maduro’s administration.

In 2015, Spanish newspaper La Voz de Galicia published an article analyzing the similarities between what the Venezuelan president did and what Pablo Iglesias proposes.

The article revealed similarities between what was implemented by the Venezuelan president and the proposals of Pablo Iglesias.

The article reveals Iglesias has not only used phrases in Spain that are literal copies of those used by Hugo Chávez, but he also referenced social organizations and media controls that showed the “script to follow.”

If something defines the use of Podemos is the use of the word caste. In his speech in 2007, Chávez already talked of a caste of privileged people that has to be put down. These people in Chávez’s opinion killed Bolívar. Chávez also used “cúpula” in the same sense. The word empower, also key in Iglesias’ speech. He talked of a “popular empowerment” to improve democracy, which comes from the “popular empowerment” that Chávez promoted in Venezuela as the “flag of socialism” that Nicolas Maduro still repeats.

The Prime Minister of Spain Mariano Rajoy has been stark when exposing his position on the crisis in Venezuela. With these elections, the Spanish people not only confirmed their support of the politician, but backed the results of Venezuelan opposition.

Rajoy has been strong in his declarations and has demanded Nicolás Maduro to make Venezuela a “free country.” He has also said the situation there is “truly atrocious.”

“I haven’t made an electoral campaign out of this, all I’ve done is fulfill my obligation as president of the Spanish government,” Rajoy said.

Nicolás Maduro recently invited his spanish peer to Venezuela to debate the situation in Spain.

Maduro has continuously denounced the existence of a “world campaign” against Venezuela to “generate a crisis.” He claims the crisis will serve as an excuse for a military intervention from NATO, which would be promoted by Mariano Rajoy.

Rajoy was the “first leader of a government in the world” to receive Lilian Tintori, the wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López.

“I want for Venezuelans the same as I want for the Spanish: democracy, freedom, human rights and social and economic development,” the PP leader said.

Sabrina Martín Sabrina Martín

Sabrina Martín is a Venezuelan journalist, commentator, and editor based in Valencia with experience in corporate communication. Follow @SabrinaMartinR.