- Venezuela's Foreign Minister has accused opposition leaders of hiding in foreign embassies.
- Diplomatic tension between France and Venezuela began in April.
- France and Spain are among some 50 western countries which recognize Juan Guaido as interim president.
Venezuela’s foreign minister is accusing France of having given refuge to opposition leader Juan Guaidó at its embassy in Caracas, a charge that Paris denies. “Mr Juan Guaido is not at the French residency in Caracas. We have confirmed this to the Venezuelan authorities several times,” French foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said.
The same sentiments were echoed by Guaido’s special envoy to Paris, Isadora Zubillaga. “Guaido is not in any embassy,” she told the media, “he doesn’t need to hide because his people are with him.”
Instead, she said, “those who should hide are members of the government,” in reference to a $15 million reward posted by the United States, for the capture of President Nicolas Maduro’s ministers, accused of drug dealing and support for terrorism.
Venezuelan diplomatic chief Jorge Arreaza said on Thursday that the opponent of Nicolás Maduro’s regime was at the French embassy, and that another opposition leader, Leopoldo López, was at the residence of the Spanish ambassador. On Monday, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro had also stated that Juan Guaidó could be “hidden in an embassy.”
The French foreign ministry spokeswoman also reiterated that only free elections could pave the way for a solution to Venezuela’s crisis. “All efforts must now focus on the search for a political solution to the Venezuelan political crisis,” von der Muhll said. “Only a democratic path and free, transparent and credible elections will allow it to be resolved in the long term and put an end to the suffering of the Venezuelan people.” she added.
France and Spain are among the more than 50 countries that don’t recognize Nicolás Maduro’s legitimacy, but recognize Guaidó as interim president. They do not consider Venezuela’s last election to be either free or fair, pointing to serious irregularities to the advantage of Maduro. The country’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, on it’s part, called President Maduro a usurper following his controversial 2018 “re-election.”
Jorge Arreaza, the Foreign Minister of Venezuela, made the claim that Juan Guaido was hiding at the French embassy on Thursday, and that Leopoldo Lopez was inside the Spanish embassy. Arreaza said, “we hope that these governments will change their mind . . . and deliver those who wish to escape Venezuelan justice,”
Diplomatic tension between France and Venezuela began in April, with Nicolás Maduro accusing the French ambassador, Romain Nadal, of interfering in the country’s internal affairs.
Since May, elements of the Bolivarian Intelligence Services (SEBIN, intelligence services) and the Military Counterintelligence Directorate (military intelligence services) have been policing the street of the ambassador’s residence, which has since been without water and electricity.
The measures prompted the French government to call the Venezuelan ambassador to Paris, Michel Mujica, to protest what it considers to be a violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.