In his regular television program In Touch with Maduro (En Contacto con Maduro), the Venezuelan president announced that the country’s parliament would denounce “in all situations” the recent Spanish Citizen Security law for “violating human rights”.
The citizen security law, pushed through by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party (PP), has been dubbed the “gag law” for measures that critics say limit free speech, such as imposing fines for protesting, social media activism and taking unauthorized pictures of police.
“This is a fascist law that we in Venezuela, with our free voices, denounce as a law that violates human rights, that violates the UN charter, and I announce that the [Venezuelan] National Assembly is going to condemn Rajoy’s Gag Law in all situations,” Maduro said.
Maduro said that if his government passed such a law, he would be called a dictator.
“Just as in the law approved in Spain by the ultra-rightwing, Francoist Rajoy, then shut your mouth,” Maduro continued. “It is prohibited to protest in Spain, in Spain they have instated a dictatorship of financial capital and corruption by the rightwing, Francoist leader, Mr. Rajoy. That is the real truth.
“If we approved this law in Venezuela… they would be accusing us of the same right now.”
Maduro himself has faced criticism for his treatment of protesters and opponents, with complaints that security forces have acted violently against demonstrators.
In March, the National Assembly (Venezuelan parliament) granted Maduro for the second time the power to govern by decree until the end of the year, meaning he may quickly pass laws without legislative approval.
Spaniards protesting the country's new “gag law”. Photo: Dani Pozo/AFP.
Tensions with former colony
Venezuela has frequently cropped up in Spanish news lately as tensions have risen between the South American country and its former colonizer.
Venezuela recalled its Spanish ambassador for consultations in February after Rajoy met with Lilian Tintori, the wife of jailed opposition leader Leopold Lopez, while Spain recalled its ambassador to Caracas in April after Maduro accused Madrid of “supporting terrorism” in Venezuela.
The Venezuelan government has also accused Spain of “meddling” too much in his country, with Maduro saying that he might as well run for prime minister of Spain because he is in the news so much there.
Maduro’s recent comments about Spain’s gag law hardly ease the strained relations between the two countries.
Gag law 'criminalizes poverty'
The Catholic Church’s official charity organization in Spain, Cáritas, last month presented concerns to the United Nations human rights committee about the law.
The charity and social relief group told the UN that the law “can be very damaging to people in situations of social exclusion and severe vulnerability, leading to the criminalization of poverty”.
Greenpeace recently protested the implementation of the law by scaling a sky-high crane towering above the Spanish Parliament building, declaring “Protesting is a Right”.
Thousands protested in the streets before the law came into force on July 1st, demonstrating against the legislation’s fines of up to €600,000 ($638,000) for offences like holding unauthorized protests near key public buildings.