Given Spain’s historical links to Latin America, many Venezuelans have used their family ancestry to claim a Spanish passport. Several have relatives who fled Spain in 1939, after Gen. Francisco Franco won the civil war, while others have tapped into a citizenship program for descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled from the country in 1492.
Venezuelans are also among the main applicants to Spain’s “golden visa” scheme, which grants residency to foreigners buying a property worth €500,000 or more, a measure instituted in 2013 to help revive the crisis-hit economy.
“Madrid is becoming for Venezuelans what Miami once was for us — and remains for Cubans,” said Mr. Seijas of SNB Capital, who also heads an investment association and estimates that about 280,000 Venezuelans now live in Spain, of whom about 120,000 have acquired Spanish citizenship.
Tomás Páez, a professor who studies immigration at the Central University of Venezuela, said Venezuelans now formed the fastest-growing foreign community in Spain, more than doubling their presence in the past two years.
Javier Cremades, a Spanish lawyer and chairman of Cremades Calvo y Sotelo, said his Madrid-based firm was representing about 40 Venezuelans applying for a golden visa. Mr. Cremades has also been at the forefront of Spanish efforts to help Mr. Maduro’s political opponents, like Antonio Ledezma, the former mayor of Caracas, who fled to Spain last November.
In July, Mr. Ledezma was among an association representing Venezuelan residents in Madrid that called on Spain’s new Socialist government to grant a special asylum status to those fleeing Mr. Maduro’s regime.
On the other hand, members of the Venezuelan opposition have used social media to keep track in Spain of the “bolochicos,” a derogatory nickname given to the younger heirs of the Bolivarian republic of Venezuela started by Mr. Chávez, who became president in 1999.
Orignially published in NYT.