23 June 2016 - 04:23 AM
Spanish Right-Wing Thinks Caracas is the Capital of Spain
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Venezuela has become one of the most prominent themes of Spanish political debate during this election campaign.

Spanish Right-Wing Thinks Caracas is the Capital of Spain

In early June, Pablo Casado, the spokesperson for Spain's traditional right-wing Popular Party, shared a video on his Twitter account that showed a horde of protesters clashing with military police. The text of the tweet read: "A friend in Venezuela sent me this video of people clashing with the Chavista police demanding food ... We cannot tolerate this.”

But it was found that the video was not recorded in Caracas, but instead in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This is just one of the many examples of how the Spanish right-wing has managed to look ridiculous while speaking of Venezuela.

Politicians and the right-wing media analyze daily the alleged lack of freedom, food shortages and crime that exists in the South American country, while ignoring the problems in Spain such as social exclusion and the poverty rate which has reached 29.2 percent, according to the European Anti-Poverty Network.

The obsession is so great that it has led Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to invite his Spanish counterpart, Mariano Rajoy, to debate in Venezuela about the problems of Spain.

"How do you explain that this humble Venezuelan server is every day in the Spanish media?" Maduro asked. "It is striking ... disproportionate," he added.

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It is true that Venezuela is home to nearly 200,000 Spaniards. But why such an obsession?

The explanation is simple and is summarized in one word: Podemos. This young political party, which in an electoral alliance with the United Left, formed Unidos Podemos, promises the end of austerity and the privileges of the elites.

In the December general elections, Podemos was able to put an end to the two-party system that had ruled Spain for more than 30 years.

Some of its founders worked for Venezuela's government during the presidency of Hugo Chavez.

The Spanish right-wing has taken this fact and used it as an electoral weapon, claiming that if Podemos, or Podemos Unidos, were to come to power in Spain, freedoms, human rights and even toilet paper would disappear, "like in Venezuela," they say.

The right has even accused Podemos of receiving money illegally from the Venezuelan government. However, these allegations, filed in Spanish courts on five separate occasions, have never proven any evidence of criminal activity.

Albert Rivera, the leader of Ciudadanos, or Citizens, a new right-wing party, traveled to Caracas in late May to show his support for so-called "political prisoners" and to campaign for a recall referendum against Nicolas Maduro. During his visit he was accompanied at all times by a slew of journalists. Yet, he is running for president of Spain, not Venezuela.

The Spanish right-wing's exaggerated concern with everything that happens in Venezuela contrasts with how little they focus on human rights in other countries.

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One example is their silence on the plight of Western Sahara—the last Spanish colony—whose people live as refugees in the desert.

They don't say a word about the permanent violation of human rights suffered by the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation.

They stay silent on the fact that Spain is hosting only 18 Syrian refugees, 0.1 percent of what the Spanish government agreed to with the EU.

Nothing is said about the deaths of more than 10,000 migrants since 2014 in the Mediterranean Sea.

And there is no cry of "we cannot tolerate this" when it comes to the mass labor protests in neighboring France that have been violently attacked by the French government.

No, these, and other more pressing issues, are not the subject of the national debate for the right-wing.

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