US diplomacy has responded to recent criticism from Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to the sanctions regime against the Chavista regime in Venezuela, saying that in reality the shortage and the economic and humanitarian crisis that the Caribbean country is suffering are due to the mismanagement and corruption of Nicolás Maduro and his subordinates. As the undersecretary of state for Ibero-America said this Wednesday, Michael Kozak, in a conversation with a group of journalists, “Former President Zapatero has a long relationship with Maduro and Venezuela, so I suppose we are not surprised that he continues in that line on his own.”
According to Kozak, “the collapse of the Venezuelan oil industry and the other problems preceded the US sanctions, that collapse had already been achieved. [los chavistas] through his own mismanagement and corruption, they themselves destroyed one of the richest economies in the region and turned it into one of the poorest. “Trying to attribute that to subsequent sanctions is wrong,” Kozak added, in response to a question from ABC.
This veteran diplomat, however, does not believe that Zapatero represents the position of the Spanish government. «Former President Zapatero is a private citizen. He can travel wherever he wants. We believe that we have had productive conversations with the government of Spain especially about the problem of Venezuela and how to tackle it. We don’t always agree. But they are one of our many international partners.
According to Kozak, the official position of the EU contradicts Zapatero and his attempts to legitimize the Maduro regime. “It is worth considering the reaction to this electoral farce that occurred on December 6. And consider the statements of the EU, of the governments of the EU, of the governments of the entire region, as 51 countries issued a statement saying that they do not recognize that these elections have any legitimacy or that they are really elections. They were a sham organized by the regime. So I think that is what the visit in a private capacity of this former president highlights, “added Kozak.
Former President Zapatero assured on Sunday from Venezuela, where he was invited by Maduro, that not to recognize the electoral process that took place in the South American country “is to ignore Venezuela and its people.” Zapatero affirmed that the US sanctions have been of no use to solve the political crisis, and reiterated that negotiations with Chavismo should continue. «How things have changed a lot in the north [EE.UU.], you must choose another way“He said, referring to the November presidential election, which Democrat Joe Biden won.
The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya, said on Tuesday that Zapatero’s statements “do not bother” in the EU, although he clarified that the former head of the Executive “speaks on his behalf”, not that of the Government of Spain. «I believe that President Zapatero speaks on his behalf, he has always said it and has been very clear about it. I personally respect President Zapatero and his word a lot, but he speaks in his individual and personal capacity, “added the minister, reports Efe.
Despite these calls by Zapatero to take advantage of the change of government in the United States to ease sanctions, the team he is forming Biden It is distinguished by having condemned Maduro’s authoritarianism and by having defended in several conferences and oral hearings the sanctions regime that the Donald Trump Administration has hardened.
Kozak, who has been in the post since September 2019, has said that regardless of the US Administration, contact with Maduro and the rest of the regime’s leadership is complicated for a specific reason. «We are dealing with criminals basically selfish, not with people who care about the welfare of their institutions or their country. And that makes it very difficult to deal with them, “said the ambassador.