Latin America

Ex-Spanish PMs Aznar and González unite to condemn Venezuela abuses

Twenty-five former Ibero-American leaders sign declaration on eve of Panama summit

Jan Martínez Ahrens
Mitzy Capriles with former Prime Minister Felipe González.
Mitzy Capriles with former Prime Minister Felipe González.el país

Politics in Venezuela operates much like a boxing ring: not a day goes by without a blow being landed and, for the moment, there is no end to the bout in sight.

President Nicolás Maduro’s jailing of opposition leaders in his country has been criticized by the international community and, on Thursday, more pressure was put on the Venezuelan government on the eve of the Summit of the Americas in Panama.

Twenty-five former Spanish and Latin American leaders signed a document in which they denounce the “lack of democratic guarantees” in Venezuela. Among the signatories are former Spanish prime ministers José María Aznar of the Popular Party (PP) and Socialist Felipe González.

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“As far as we know, the only time they had signed anything together was maybe a hotel registry,” joked former Colombian President Andrés Pastrana, who is also a signatory.

In their statement, the ex-leaders demand the immediate release of opposition leaders and call on the Maduro government to hold “free and fair” elections.

Aznar flew to Panama exclusively to sign the document and his message was characteristically brief and severe.

“My simple presence here is expression enough,” he said. “My mission is that of a fighter for liberty who knows that in certain circumstances silence and inaction can be accomplices, for example, in confronting the unsustainable situation in Venezuela. Let it be known that my voice and actions will never fail those who fight for freedom,” Aznar said.

González, who has announced that he will take on the defense of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López and Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, who was detained in February, was not present at Thursday’s ceremony in Panama.

We want to cause a political earthquake that will ensure change”

An initiative of the Idea Foundation, the document describes the political situation in Venezuela and denounces the abuse of power by government officials, torture and media censorship.

“We want to cause a political earthquake that will ensure change,” said Pastrana, who presented the declaration.

Among those who also signed the statement were Mexico’s Felipe Calderón and Vicente Fox; Colombia’s Belisario Betancur and Álvaro Uribe of Colombia; Chile’s Sebastián Piñera; and Julio María Sanguinetti of Uruguay.

Also in attendance were the wives of López and Ledezma: Lilian Tintori and Mitzy Capriles, who called for immediate changes in Venezuela.

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