Opposition leader Juan Guaido received a hero’s welcome in Madrid today, as a large group of supporters flooded the city’s Puerta del Sol plaza to greet him. Guaido had arrived in Madrid earlier in the day to meet with government officials, and to receive the key to the city.
As Guaido was expected to speak at the plaza, the crowd in attendance began to chant “freedom! freedom!”, a cry that is common among Venezuelan opposition supporters at events. Below, a video of the crowd at the Puerta del Sol:
Below, an image of the plaza from earlier in the afternoon showing the size of the crowd:
While in Madrid, Guaido had a chance to meet with former Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma, who was been living in exile in the country for several years:
After a private meeting, Ledezma said that he was confident that Guaido would not lead the country to an electoral showdown as long as Maduro was in power.
Jose Luis Martinez, Madrid’s mayor, had the following words for Guaido when he presented him with the key to the city:
You represent liberty in the face of tyranny before the whole world, democracy in the face of dictatorship, reason in the face of brute force.
Guaido dedicated the gesture to the Venezuelan people, saying:
Today, I humbly accept this gift in the name of all Venezuelans who suffer daily: the teachers who insist on continuing to do their job despite it all, and the nurses who’ve stood firm for freedom.
Guaido also spoke to the crowd about the mistakes that he has made as the de facto leader of the opposition, and lamented that these have meant Maduro’s continued rule. Guaido said:
I ask for your forgiveness. I ask for the forgiveness of deputy Addy Valero, and the children of JM de los Rios.
Deputy Valero died of cancer on January 22. She had launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for her treatment. On January 9 of this year, she alleged that fellow National Assembly deputy Luis Loaiza had attempted to bribe her to turn on Guaido’s opposition faction with the promise of access to medical treatment.
JM De Los Rios is a children’s hospital in Caracas that has come to signify the country’s healthcare crisis and its effects on one of the country’s most vulnerable population. News of children’s deaths at the hospital due to lack of medicine and medical equipment make regularly headlines in Venezuela.
Controversy Brews over VP’s Secret Trip to Spain
Vice president Delcy Rodriguez secretly traveled to Spain last week, staying in the country for a short period of time during a layover on her trip to Istanbul. Rodriguez was reportedly allowed to land in Madrid despite European Union sanctions against her entering any member state,
According to the Associated Press (AP), Rodriguez held a secret meeting on the airport tarmac with Spanish Minister of Transportation Jose Luis Abalos, “a key figure in Spain’s ruling Socialist party”. Abalos allegedly spent an hour an a half inside Rodriguez’s private jet.
Other reports indicate that Rodriguez was allowed to leave the airplane and enter a VIP lounger in the airport. From The Guardian:
It reported that Rodríguez and members of her entourage then spent time in the airport’s VIP lounge before the plane left in the afternoon for Istanbul, where she was due to attend an event marking the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the South American country and Turkey.
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