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  • French riot police officers (CRS) face protestors during clashes during a demonstration against the French labour law proposal in Paris.

    French riot police officers (CRS) face protestors during clashes during a demonstration against the French labour law proposal in Paris. | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 May 2016

Silent on France, Spanish caretaker Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy stands accused of using the topic of Venezuela for political gain.

As violent protests continue to rock France amid a controversial state-of-emergency and ongoing political unrest, Spanish caretaker Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy decided to call a National Security Council meeting — about Venezuela.

Venezuela has become a hot topic in the ongoing Spanish general election, with right-wing parties such as Rajoy's very own People's Party and the upstart Ciudadanos using the political situation in the country as a means of securing votes and isolating the rise of the leftist Podemos-United Left coalition.

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Friday's security council meeting called by Rajoy was originally billed as an extraordinary meeting, which are usually called during times of crisis, but Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria conceded it was in fact an ordinary meeting that happened to deal with the topic of Venezuela.

The security council, which includes high-level ministers and is tasked with issues of national security, last met in November so the move to call one now is unusual.

But Santamaria denied the meeting was held for electoral gain, with the Spanish caretaker government attempting to justify its broaching of the topic on the basis that the state-of-emergency decreed by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro merits an official response due to the 188,000 Spaniards living in the South American country.

But Madrid has been silent on the crisis in neighboring France, where over 230,000 Spaniards live and the Francois Hollande government recently extended its own state-of-emergency for the third time since the November Paris attacks.

The French decree allows the state to place any person whose behavior is considered "a threat to security and public order" under house arrest. It also enables the state to order searches of homes at any hour without involving the courts, moves that have been heavily criticized by human rights groups.

To add to the French state-of-emergency, thousands of workers in France have been protesting a labor reform that unions say will destroy job security and erode workers' rights. Clashes between police and protesters have thrown parts of the country into complete and utter chaos.

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Meanwhile, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro strongly critized the actions of the Rajoy government, accusing the Spanish caretaker prime minister of trying to foment conditions for direct military intervention in Venezuela.

"Behind this is Rajoy, behind this are (Venezuelan National Assembly head) Ramos Allup right-wingers, who invites them to intervene in internal affairs that are the purview of Venezuelans,” said Maduro on Thursday.

Spaniards will vote again on June 26 after an inconclusive December election failed to deliver a mandate to govern to any one parties, while politicians were unable to agree on a coalition administration.

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