September 29, 2020

A year of meetings and disagreements between Spain and Juan Guaidó



A year after Pedro Sánchez recognized Juan Guaidó as president in charge of Venezuela, the Government has insisted several times that he has not changed his position regarding this country, even though Podemos has entered the Executive.

There have been, in any case, several controversies about the relationship that Spain has with Guaidó, especially after Sánchez did not receive him when he visited the country, and the last one occurred yesterday, when the chief of the Executive described him as leader of the Venezuelan opposition instead of the president in charge.

With nuances, ups and downs and raffling controversies, the Government of Sanchez defends to be maintaining the same position despite its new partners in the Executive, who not only never recognized Guaido but also considered him a coup.

This is the chronology of the meetings and disagreements of the Government of Spain and the main opponent of Nicolás Maduro:

YEAR 2019

January 23.- Before the institutional crisis in Venezuela, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, asks to preserve the unity of action of the European Union and calls for a quick debate of all foreign ministers.

January 24.- The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, speaks by telephone from Davos (Switzerland) with the president of the Venezuelan General Assembly, Juan Guaidó, and conveys the message that democratic and transparent elections are the ideal “way out” and natural “to the crisis in that country.

January 25.- The Government proposes to the EU to set a specific deadline for the Nicolás Maduro regime to call free elections in Venezuela and, in case of not fulfilling this condition, recognize Juan Guaidó as interim president of the country.

January 26.- Pedro Sánchez gives Nicolás Maduro eight days to call elections or else Spain will recognize Juan Guaidó.

January 29.- In an act of the Socialist International in Santo Domingo, Sanchez calls Nicolas Maduro “tyrant” and underlines that Guaido must lead the transition in Venezuela.

February 4. – Sanchez appears in the Moncloa to confirm the official recognition of Spain to Juan Guaidó as “president in charge” of Venezuela. This recognition has a clear horizon: “Convene free, democratic elections, with guarantees and without exclusions” in the shortest possible time, he emphasizes.

We can assure you that Sánchez “is wrong” and that recognition can “open the door to an armed confrontation.”

March 4. – Borrell emphasizes the EU’s warning to Venezuela to allow Guaidó to return to the country without problems and respect the ability of the president of the Assembly and president in charge of “freely exercising their functions.”

March 12.- Spain and the United States confirm having conversations about the possibility of Spain accepting Venezuelan officials who decide to leave President Nicolás Maduro, although without making any commitment.

March 28.- The II International Meeting on Venezuela, held in Quito and attended by Borrell, concludes with a statement that includes electoral enforcement proposals and a road map to enable the call for elections.

April 30.- For the Government, Guaidó is the rightful person to lead the political transformation of the country, whose “solution must come from the hand of a democratic and peaceful movement; therefore, Spain does not support any military coup,” he says. at a press conference the spokeswoman, Isabel Celaá.

On the other hand, parties like IU condemn the new “attempted coup d’etat”, the day in which 69 people are injured in the protests unleashed in Caracas after the attempted military uprising led by Guaido. May 1. – The leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, believes that the Government “made a mistake recognizing” Guaidó and assures that this has been recognized in the Foreign Ministry.

May 2. – Minister Borrell “flatly” denies the statements of Pablo Iglesias and says that no one in Exterior has admitted that it was a mistake to recognize Guaidó.

May 3.- The Spanish Government assures that it will not hand over the Venezuelan authorities to Leopoldo López, the opposition leader who is welcomed as a “guest” at the residence of the Spanish ambassador in Caracas, but will regulate and limit his political activity to that the diplomatic headquarters “does not become a center of political activism”.

May 13.- The International Contact Group promoted by the European Union to promote a political solution to the Venezuelan crisis announces that it will send a mission to Caracas the following week.

May 23.- Minister Borrell believes that “there will be no choice but to establish contacts” between the Venezuelan government and the opposition, since four months have passed since Guaidó proclaimed himself interim president, but Nicolás Maduro remains in power.

Borrell regrets that the EU is “very slow” in its decision-making process, both to recognize Guaidó and to form the Contact Group between European and Latin American countries, which has been surpassed by Norwegian mediation.

June 4. – Lilian Tintori, wife of Venezuelan opponent Leopoldo López, and her youngest daughter travel to Spain, while he remains a guest of the residence of the Spanish ambassador in Caracas.

June 6th.- Borrell ensures that “we must not interfere with the dynamics” or promote any negotiations parallel to the start-up by the Norwegian Government to find a way out of the crisis in Venezuela and advocates to expect results, given the country’s ability to mediate and promote agreements .

June 20. – Borrell holds a videoconference with Guaidó and with “leaders of some of the opposition parties with greater representation in the National Assembly” and reiterates to them the Spanish and EU position in favor of a peaceful and decided solution by Venezuelans . It also transfers “strong support” from Spain to the Oslo process.

June 26.- Borrell meets with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza as part of Spain’s efforts to “contribute to a peaceful, political and democratic solution” to the crisis.

September 22.- The foreign minister assures at the United Nations headquarters that Spain is going to “encourage” the Government and the opposition of Venezuela to continue with the negotiations initiated in Oslo.

2020 YEAR

January 22.- In Davos, the same forum from which a year before Sánchez spoke on the phone with Guaidó, the Government informs that it will not be the president who receives him on his visit to Spain.

January 23.- Pablo Iglesias, already vice president in the Government of Sanchez, describes Guaidó as a “very important political leader of the opposition” and, as such, considers that the right thing is to receive the minister and not the president of the Government .

January 24.- The day before arriving in Spain, Guaidó downplays the fact that Sánchez does not receive him and insists on good bilateral relations.

On that same day, it appears that the vice president of the Maduro government, Delcy Rodríguez, met on the morning of January 20 at the Barajas airport with the Minister of Transportation, José Luis Ábalos.

Since that day, there are several versions that the Executive is giving about that meeting, although at all times he says that Rodríguez did not step on Spanish soil (the EU forbids it).

January 25.- Guaidó visits Spain and holds a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya, at the House of America in Madrid, who transfers the “full support of the Spanish Government” and the “desire” of the Executive of Contribute to elections in Venezuela with democratic guarantees.

February 12.- Pedro Sánchez refers in Congress to Guaidó as “leader of the Venezuelan opposition” and defends his minister Ábalos by ensuring that he avoided a “diplomatic crisis” by meeting in Barajas with Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez.

The opposition charges against Sánchez for not speaking of Guaidó as president in charge and the Executive insists that he has not changed his position on Venezuela.

February 13.- The Government, through the first vice president, Carmen Calvo, emphasizes on Thursday that “the position on Venezuela has not changed at all” and the Executive continues to recognize Guaidó as president in charge.

By Cristina Lladó and Patricia de Arce.

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