Diplomatic spat: Spain, Venezuela tensions rise

Diplomatic spat: Spain, Venezuela tensions rise
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Photo:Johan Ordonez/AFP
Spain and Venezuela summoned each other's ambassadors on Wednesday in a mounting row, as accusations flew back and forth across the Atlantic of a Venezuelan opposition crackdown and Spanish "racism" and "meddling".

The spat erupted after Spanish lawmakers passed a motion Tuesday calling on Venezuela, a former colony of Spain, to release jailed opposition leaders.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro condemned the measure as "an act of aggression by corrupt Spanish elites" and called Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy "a racist".

He also accused the Spanish parliament of interfering in Venezuela's affairs and recommended it "look after its mother".

The Spanish foreign ministry summoned Venezuelan Ambassador Mario Isea to tell him that Maduro's "statements, insults and threats" were "intolerable", it said in a statement.

Venezuela in turn summoned Spanish Ambassador Antonio Perez-Hernandez y Torra in protest, complaining of Spain's "meddling and disrespectful statements", said Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez.

"We again call on the Spanish government to respect Venezuela's sovereignty," she said.

Venezuela's treatment of opposition figures is a routine source of tension between Madrid and Caracas.

Venezuela recalled its ambassador to Spain for consultations in February after Rajoy met with Lilian Tintori, the wife of jailed opposition leader Leopold Lopez.

The following month Rajoy met with Mitzy Capriles, the wife of Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma, who has also been jailed in what Venezuelan opposition figures said was the latest crackdown on criticism of Maduro's left-wing government.

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