BOGOTA – The Colombian government rejected on Sunday the decision of Nicolas Maduro’s “dictatorship” to prevent the entry into Venezuela of a delegation of MEPs who wanted to meet with Juan Guaido, recognized by some countries as interim president.
“The government of Colombia rejects that dictatorship has prevented entry to Venezuela of delegation members of the European Parliament. Very soon, brother country will again have democracy and freedom,” Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said on Twitter.
On Sunday afternoon, MEPs Esteban Gonzalez Pons, spokesperson for the Spanish delegation of the Popular Party in the European Parliament (EP), Esther de Lange, vice-president of the Group of the European People’s Party (EPP), and Paulo Rangel, vice-president of the EPP Group and treasurer, denounced their expulsion from Venezuela as soon as they arrived at Caracas airport.
The European delegation also included Jose Ignacio Salafranca Sanchez-Neyra, vice-coordinator of the EP Foreign Affairs Committee; Gabriel Mato Adrover, vice-president of the delegation for relations with the countries of Central America – both members of the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly – and Juan Salafranca, deputy secretary general of the EPP parliamentary group.
“They are expelling us. First they detained us (...) They have withdrawn our passports and without explaining anything to us the passports are still withheld. They are taking us directly to a plane that I hope will be the one going to Madrid, but they are expelling us from the country,” Gonzalez Pons told EFE by telephone.
The Colombian foreign minister added that Maduro trampled on democracy and freedom by preventing the entrance to the European Parliament members and pointed out that this act shows the need for “the support for Juan Guaido to continue growing” and free elections.
Gonzalez Pons said at Simon Bolivar International Airport that the reason for the expulsion of the European mission “is that (Nicolas) Maduro does not want us to be here.”
The parliamentarian stressed that they showed the authorities an invitation from the National Assembly (NA), which has an opposition majority, “because this is not a private visit.”
“We have received a formal invitation from the president of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the NA (Francisco Sucre),” he added.
In addition, Gonzalez Pons said that “when a country closes the windows and closes the doors so that you do not see what is going on inside it is about to go from words to the worst deeds.”