BOGOTA – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos urged on Tuesday restoring democracy in Venezuela, which he said is governed by a “dictatorial regime,” at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after their meeting in Bogota.
“It’s urgent to restore the democratic course in Venezuela because it’s the citizens who are suffering the consequences of a dead-in-the-water dictatorship,” the Colombian leader said.
Santos and Tillerson, who is on a Latin American tour, met at the Casa de Nariño to discuss issues on the bilateral and regional agenda, including the anti-drug fight and the crisis in Venezuela, to whose citizens Colombia will continue “providing humanitarian assistance,” Santos said.
The Colombian leader said that he conveyed to Tillerson the concern of his government over the Venezuelan crisis and its effect on the public there, as well as the calling of presidential elections before May from which the main opposition leaders have been excluded.
Nicolas Maduro aspires to be re-elected Venezuela’s president but the opposition has not yet agreed to participate in the vote.
“Maduro would never accept ... free and transparent elections because he knows he’d lose,” said Santos.