CARACAS – Spanish former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez left on Tuesday after Venezuelan authorities would not provide him with permits to visit jailed opposition leaders or to attend court hearings, diplomatic sources told Efe.
Gonzalez left Simon Bolivar International Airport at Maiquetia around 11:30 a.m. on a flight to the Colombian capital.
Juan Carlos Gutierrez, attorney of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, told Efe that Gonzalez had asked permission to visit his client and another defendant, Daniel Ceballos.
At the same time the former prime minister asked to attend court hearings involving Lopez and Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, since Venezuela already barred the Spaniard from participating in the proceedings as defense counsel.
Neither request has received an official answer from either the government or the judges, so Gonzalez decided not to fight that decision, Gutierrez said.
“All the necessary documents have been presented for the authorities to allow him to attend the trial and to enter the prisons, but no official response has been received in writing, so Gonzalez’s attitude of institutional respect for the Venezuelan authorities seems to me perfectly correct,” the attorney said.
Gutierrez said Gonzalez did not rule out returning to Venezuela “at a time when the Venezuelan authorities allow him to attend the trials or visit the prisoners.”
“He does not want a confrontation with the government, he doesn’t want to break the law,” he said.
For his part, Ledezma’s attorney Omar Estacio said Gonzalez told him he was “willing to return to Venezuela whenever the Venezuelan government allows him access to those in custody.”
The former prime minister arrived in Caracas last Sunday and spoke with families of the imprisoned opposition leaders, while also meeting with members of the Democratic Unity Roundtable, or MUD, an alliance of opposition parties.
Lopez and Ceballos are in prison pending trial on charges of instigating violent actions related to the 2014 anti-government protests, while Ledezma is being held for alleged conspiracy.
Bolivian President Evo Morales described Tuesday the visit of Gonzalez to Venezuela as an example of “neocolonialism” and asked whether “the Spaniards might not have political problems themselves.”
Gonzalez’s visit to Caracas, where he hoped to visit the opposition leaders, is the result of “a colonial mentality and that has to end,” the Bolivian president said in a statement to Efe.
“Maybe the Spaniards don’t have their own political problems? If a former president of Venezuela or Bolivia went to teach Spain something, they wouldn’t accept it,” said the Bolivian leader, who is in Brussels to attend the summit of the European Union (EU) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).