VALLADOLID, Spain – Over the past two weeks, Spain has become an accidental protagonist in the diplomatic efforts to end Venezuela’s crises.
The country was recently in the spotlight when opposition leader Leopoldo López sought refuge as a “guest” in the Spanish Embassy in Caracas after calls for a military uprising failed on April 30. López, whose father is a Spanish citizen and a candidate for European Parliament, will likely reside at the embassy for the foreseeable future.
Further, on May 8 the acting Spanish foreign minister sparred with Donald Trump’s Special Representative for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, accusing the United States of acting “like a western cowboy.” Days later, Spanish law enforcement arrested a former Venezuelan electric power development minister on a U.S. warrant, the second such detention in a month.
The good news is that Spain is well-positioned to lead the effort to restore democracy in Venezuela. The bad news is that the Spanish government, led by the center-left Socialist Party, is deeply conflicted about what to do – potentially missing an opportunity to offer clear, consistent and vocal leadership that would stand in contrast to the Trump administration’s “cowboy” approach.