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Narco, Terror, and Politics in Southwestern Europe (4/10)

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, a.k.a. ZP

Narco, Terror, and Politics in Southwestern Europe (4/10)
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, a.k.a. ZP (l), President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela (r)
Jorge Cachinero el

Dramatis personae II: José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, a.k.a. ZP

The political career of Rodríguez Zapatero is really striking since its beginnings.

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (Valladolid, Spain, 1960) was an unknown politician with no governmental experience when, in 2000, he took over as the secretary general of the Spanish Socialist Party.

Apart from vacuous calls, without specifics, to make a “quiet change” in Spain and to champion a new “mood” of dialogue and consensus for Spanish politics, as empty as the previous ones, Rodríguez Zapatero (a.k.a. ZP) made transparent from the beginning of his term as Socialist Party leader a deep anti-American and anti-Atlanticism ideology.

In 2004, ZP won the general elections that were held in Spain 72 hours after Madrid had suffered the worst terrorist attack in its history, perpetrated by international terrorist jihadists – about two hundred dead and hundreds of wounded were torn to unrecognisable remains inside commuter trains, as they made their entrance at the capital of Spain’s Plaza de Atocha central station in the middle of morning rush hour.

Instead of postponing those elections and with a country mired in the impact of that barbarism, both incumbent President José María Aznar’s interim conservative Government clumsiness and Socialist Party-spread intoxications overshadowed the strangest electoral process in democratic Europe in decades and upset all electoral prognoses that had been made days before that fatal date.

From day one as Spain Government’s new President, ZP showed his true intentions in the international arena as a deep-hearted anti American and anti-Atlantic Alliance individual.

Firstly, he reversed the pro-Atlantic orientation of his predecessor in favour of a so-called “renewed multilateralism“, which was to pivot around the United Nations (UN) system only.

In 2004, ZP also abruptly withdrew the Spanish troops that were deployed in Iraq along with their international allies and in 2011, he refused Spain’s participation in the military intervention in Libya.

From his very first days at the head of the Government and after the impact of the immediate withdrawal of Spanish soldiers from Iraq, without providing enough notice of that decision to his allies, Spain became a marked ally for years to come, not only by successive United States (US) governments, Barack Obama’s, Donald Trump’s, and Joseph Biden’s alike, but also by many Western allies, before whom Spain ceased to be perceived as a reliable partner.

Likewise, Rodríguez Zapatero’s foreign policy included the creation, jointly with Turkey, of a so-called and never sufficiently explained “Alliance of Civilizations” and the promotion of an ineffective Euro-Mediterranean dialogue.

Moreover, ZP pressed the European Union (EU) to change its foreign policy towards Cuba for a more sympathetic stance towards the communist regime of the Castro brothers.

The consequences for Spain of all this were that a wedge with the US started to widen, it was shifted away from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) centre of gravity, and it lost its step from the so-called EU hard core.

The fact that US’ and NATO’s highly confidential responses to Russia in return to the latter’s draft treaties that had been sent to the two former demanding mutually and legally binding security guarantees over Europe’s current security architecture were leaked in full by the Spanish pro-Government Madrid newspaper El País at the beginning of February 2022, would only deepen existing mistrust about the socialist-communist coalition cabinet amongst its key Western partners.

Also, Spain’s foreign policy and fresh alliances worryingly showed features of anti-Semitism and caused frictions with the State of Israel.

It was the 2008 global fiscal crisis outbreak, which marked the first stage of the failure of ZP’s career as Spain’s Government President.

The Great Recession” clearly and unrefutably brought home the ignorance and ineptitude of ZP’s government in managing a crisis of such magnitude, while he stubbornly kept absurd public spending policies as if that shock were a mere and temporary cycle change, and in doing so dragged Spain into its worst recession in half a century, only to be replicated, at a gravest scale, by that of 2020’s.

At the end, in 2010, during an expedite phone call, Angela Merkel and Barack Obama, in unison, read the riot act to ZP, who was explained what was expected of his and of his economic policies – that was the beginning of Rodríguez Zapatero’s political decline until his defeat in the 2011 general elections.

Once ZP had left office, he dismissed the path of dedicating himself to philanthropic activities and instead chose to devote himself to international business and get rich in the process, as many of his predecessors had previously done.

To achieve this, ZP found the perfect job that was going to satisfy his ambitions – Venezuela’s Bolivarian regime’s de facto Ambassador Plenipotentiary.

With Hugo Chávez’s Governments, first, and Nicolás Maduro’s, later, several members of Rodríguez Zapatero’s Government had close relations, and made very profitable business operations, some of which are currently being investigated by the Spanish Justice.

Since his departure from power, ZP emerged as the best advocate of Venezuelan’s current political regime across the Spanish-speaking world and within the EU.

Between 2015 and 2019 alone, ZP travelled to Venezuela 37 times, 2 in 2020 and 1 in 2021.

These visits always happened when they were most necessary for Maduro and took place with evident signs of mutual sympathy and affection between ZP and Maduro.

The job description of ZP’s role as Maduro’s de facto Ambassador Plenipotentiary seems to encompass a variety of responsibilities – mediating between the Venezuelan Government and the opposition groups, presiding over rounds of talks between them, advancing and defending the Venezuelan Government’s interests before the EU, requesting President Biden to lift economic sanctions on the Maduro regime, and internationally endorsing Maduro’s irregular electoral processes.

Also, ZP’s function appears to include acting as a confidant and as a friend of siblings Jorge and Delcy Rodríguez, Maduro’s closest collaborators.

While speaking about Jorge Rodriguez Jr. in Caracas, ZP is credited with having said that he is “one of the most intelligent men I had met“.

It is hard to evaluate ZP’s performance in all these numerous tasks with a consistent “exceeded expectations” qualifier; however, despite this, he has not yet lost his job and Maduro describes him as “tireless in the search for agreements“.

In return, ZP always implores the world that “Maduro should not be demonized“, even though an UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Office (UNHCHR) investigation accuses Nicolás Maduro of crimes against humanity and the International Criminal Court (ICC) considers that there are elements to initiate a trial against him.

Then, the million-dollar question that everyone is asking, in Spain, in Venezuela, in Latin America, in the US, and in the EU, around the comings and goings of ZP to and from Caracas, is why he remains so committed to Nicolás Maduro and his lieutenants, Jorge Rodríguez Jr. and his sister, Delcy.

Is it because of a shared ideology, is it for the money, is it for the payment of outstanding debts contracted with the Maduro regime, or is it for fear of the information that Maduro may have on him?

Eventually, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has become the most important man in the Caracas-Madrid connection.

ZP is currently the perfect de facto Ambassador for Nicolás Maduro before Spain’s Government and the EU institutions.

According to Spanish media, it was during ZP’s government years that these ties with the Venezuelan regime began to strengthen.

Ironically, as the Spanish media has repeatedly stated it out, the key figure that kept that relationship at that time was not Rodríguez Zapatero himself, but José Bono, the former’s Minister of Defence.

It was Bono who cultivated an extraordinarily strong alliance with Hugo Chávez and who negotiated the appointment of Raúl Morodo, currently being prosecuted for allegedly collecting illegal commissions from the Venezuelan state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), as the Spanish Ambassador in Caracas.

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez affectionately calls former Spanish President ZP “My Prince“.

The Kingdom of Spain’s former Ambassador to Caracas, Raúl Morodo, at the time when ZP was Spain Government’s President, is today under trial before both Spanish and Swiss courts for allegedly having diverted at least between €60 million and €80 million from PDVSA to his bank’s account and to those of his wife’s, his son’s, and his daughter-in-law’s, in Spain, in Portugal, and in Switzerland.

When Ambassador Morodo used to officially write letters and notes to the Vice President of Venezuela, Delcy Rodríguez, he used to address her in writing as “Dear Gazelle*.


*José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero”, CIDOB, Barcelona Centre for International Affairs; Gascón Barberá, Marcel: “Zapatero y Venezuela”, Libertad Digital, February 13, 2018; “España fuera de la agenda internacional: las 2 últimas cumbres antiterroristas no invitaron al Gobierno”, OK Diario, December 14, 2020; Urruchurtu, Pedro: “Zapatero, el normalizador de la destrucción y de la muerte en Venezuela”, Fundación Disenso Blog, January 11, 2021; “España se queda fuera de la próxima gran cumbre antiyihadista mientras EEUU pide que participe Marruecos”, OK Diario, June 22, 2021; “Biden no invita a España a una cumbre virtual de ciberdelicuencia”, El Periódico, October 14, 2021; “Biden deja a España fuera de la cumbre contra los ciberataques”, TeleMadrid, October 14, 2021; “Biden no se fía de Sánchez: aparta a España de un foro de ciberseguridad al que sí van Kenia o Estonia”, OK Diario, October 14, 2021; “El huésped ZP”, El Confidencial, October 16, 2021; “Lisboa entrega al juez 5 cajas de información del exembajador de Zapatero en Venezuela”, Vozpopuli, January 1, 2022; “Tamara Sujú, la abogada que acorrala al chavismo en La Haya: «Zapatero es cómplice de lo que está pasando en Venezuela»”, El Debate, January 15, 2022; “Federico Jiménez Losantos entrevista a Tamara Sujú”, esRadio, January 21, 2022; “Biden no incluye a Sánchez en su llamada a los líderes europeos sobre Ucrania, pero sí al presidente ultraconservador polaco”, Público, January 24, 2022; “Biden excluye a Sánchez de una videollamada con los líderes europeos para coordinar la respuesta sobre la crisis de Ucrania”, La Nueva España, January 24, 2022; “Biden excluye a Sánchez de una videoconferencia con líderes aliados sobre Ucrania”, The Objective, January 24, 2022; “Biden deja a Sánchez fuera de la ‘war room’ sobre Rusia pese al esfuerzo militar español”, El Confidencial, January 25, 2022; “Biden deja fuera a Sánchez en su rueda de contactos para debatir sobre la situación de Ucrania”, ABC, January 25, 2022; “Las alianzas de Sánchez dañan a España ante el mundo”, El Debate, January 26, 2022; “EEUU ningunea al Sánchez aliado de comunistas que llaman “terrorista” a la OTAN”, Libertad Digital, January 26, 2022; “Hacienda acusa al ‘clan Morodo’ de lavar dinero de PDVSA con ampliaciones de capital”, El Confidencial, January 27, 2022; “Los vínculos de Podemos con Rusia impiden a Sánchez acercarse a Biden”, The Objective, January 28, 2022; “Zapatero medió para meter a la china Huawei en el 5G de Telefónica”, Vozpopuli, February 2, 2022; “Álvaro Nieto: «De Plus Ultra y del Delcygate solo hemos visto la punta del iceberg»”, The Objective, February 2, 2022; “La filtración de los papeles de la OTAN, otro golpe a la credibilidad internacional de España”, El Debate, February 2, 2022; “El juez del caso Morodo analiza a puerta cerrada las cartas del chavista que se suicidó tras declarar”, ABC, February 2, 2022; “La Audiencia amplía la investigación a la mujer del embajador de Zapatero por su fortuna”, Vozpopuli, April 6, 2022; “Anticorrupción acentúa el vínculo del clan del exembajador de Zapatero con PDVSA”, Vozpopuli, April 27, 2022; and “Hacienda detecta ingresos de 9 millones en una firma del clan Morodo vinculada a PDVSA”, Vozpopuli, April 27, 2022.

NB: All information and data about the facts and people in this article were taken from open and public sources, which are cited here. Any errors they may have made are not attributable to the author of this article, but to those of the publications from which they were taken. This series of articles was completed on July 29, 2022.


EconomíaEspañaMundoOtros temasUnión EuropeaYihadismo


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