Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro has rejected the ultimatum from European Union countries to call elections within a week - and he exemplified his reaction with a reference to the Catalan Republic, which was declared in October 2017, but not implemented.
As time was running out on the demand made by seven European countries for Maduro to call presidential elections, Maduro addressed the matter in an interview with Spanish TV network La Sexta: "We do not accept ultimatums from anybody. It is as if I had told the European Union that I was giving them seven days to recognize the Republic of Catalonia, or if not, we would take measures," said the besieged Venezuelan leader.
Asked by interviewer Jordi Évolve if he "had considered calling presidential elections," Maduro did not answer directly, but replied that dictating foreign policy by giving ultimatums was something from the colonial era. "I have complied with the constitution," he said, "and I have a clear conscience."
During the interview, Maduro was especially critical of Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez: "He's a fraud, he hasn't been elected by anyone." Not for the first time, Maduro claimed that it was Sánchez who should be calling elections in Spain, as he has never been elected by the people. The Spanish Socialist leader came to power last year after his predecessor, Mariano Rajoy lost a confidence vote proposed by Sánchez in parliament.
In the interview there were also barbs aimed at Spanish right-wing political figures, specifically Popular Party leader Pablo Casado, and Ciudadanos' Albert Rivera, who have both been highly critical not only of the Chávez and Maduro regimes in Venezuela, but also of Pedro Sánchez's reaction in Spain, which they see as weak. Maduro believes that both the Spanish right-wing leaders "despise Venezuela due to their neo-colonial vision". He said that this attitude among the Spanish right had existed for centuries. "I think it has its root in the hatred they feel for the Venezuela of Simón Bolivar", he said, referring to the Venezuelan leader who led the wars of liberation that allowed many South American countries to throw off the Spanish colonial yoke.