LIMA – The Peruvian foreign minister announced on Monday that his government had granted political asylum to Venezuelan opposition leader Manuel Rosales, who fled to avoid trial on what he says are trumped-up corruption charges.
“The Peruvian government, faithful to an historic tradition of its commitment to international law, decided to authorize asylum for Venezuelan citizen Manuel Rosales,” Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde told the foreign relations committee of Peru’s Congress.
Afterwards, in remarks to Canal N television, the foreign minister said that the decision was made after taking “humanitarian” considerations into account.
Rosales arrived in Peru at the beginning of April as a tourist and last week asked for political asylum.
The Venezuelan government said Monday in Caracas that it expected Peru to “capture and return” Rosales, whom it called a “criminal,” in compliance with international laws and in cooperation in the fight against corruption.
“We expect the Peruvian state, in its entirety, and the Peruvian government, specifically, to comply with international laws and capture and return to Venezuela the criminal Manuel Rosales,” who “is being tried for extremely serious crimes against the national wealth,” said Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro.
The case against Rosales dates from Sept. 13, 2004, when a political ally of leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez filed a criminal complaint alleging graft on the part of the then-governor of the oil-rich state of Zulia.
Prosecutors say they found that Rosales could not satisfactorily explain the origin of some $68,553 in assets.
But the probe didn’t prevent Rosales from running as the opposition’s consensus candidate in the December 2006 presidential election, which Chavez, who first took office in 1999, won with nearly 63 percent of the vote.
Last fall, Rosales won election as mayor of Maracaibo, capital of Zulia and a major hub of Venezuela’s vital oil industry. EFE