Leaders from Venezuela’s opposition-led congress met with French President Emmanuel Macron — who last week called the country a “dictatorship” — as part of their European tour that seeks to build support against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
The meeting in Paris was attended by Julio Borges, the president of Venezuela's National Assembly, Freddy Guevara, the vice president, and Roberto Patino.
“I stressed the urgency of opening up the door to humanitarian aid in Venezuela,” Borges told reporters after the meeting, saying the French president had “been been eager to help.”
Last week, Macron had referred to Maduro’s administration as “a dictatorship trying to survive at the cost of unprecedented humanitarian distress," at a meeting with ambassadors in Paris.
The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry had responded with a communique saying, “comments like this are an attack on Venezuelan institutions and seem to form part of the permanent imperialist obsession with attacking our people.”
Borges and his cadre are also set to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy later this week.
A prominent right-wing opposition figure, Lilian Tintori — who has sought support against Maduro from figures such as U.S. President Donald Trump and Argentine President Mauricio Macri — was also set to attend the meeting with Macron.
However, on Aug. 30, the criminal investigation unit, CICPC, found 200 million bolivares in cash, about US$60,000 at the official exchange rate, inside a vehicle belonging to Tintori in four wooden crates. It opened an investigation into her, which prohibits her from leaving the country while it continues. The finding sparked outrage on social media.
As she was prevented from flying Saturday by Venezuelan immigration authorities, Tintori used the opportunity to convene a press conference inside the Simón Bolívar International Airport, again calling for international support.
In the wake of Tintori’s appeals, Venezuela Monday delivered a formal protest note to the ambassadors of Spain, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom for "meddling" in the internal affairs of the country, the foreign ministry said.
"We had to make this announcement as a matter of urgency given the permanent interference of these ambassadors and their governments in Venezuela's internal affairs, in the functioning of its democracy, in the functioning of its public powers," Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said.
"Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza offers statements after giving a note of protest to ambassadors from Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom."
The protest notes, which were presented individually to the ambassadors of Spain, Germany and Italy, were in direct response to the statements issued by the ambassadors of Spain, Germany and Italy questioning the ban on Tintori leaving the country.