The Venezuelan government have lambasted a statement from the U.S. State Department released Thursday as “unacceptable interference in its internal affairs.”
“Venezuela categorically rejects the interventionalist statement […], in which our democratic institutions and constitutional principles are ignored,” the Venezuelan foreign minister said.
The statement by State Department staffer Marie Harf criticizes the Venezuelan authorities for a “lack of due process,” and “opaque justice procedures” in dealing with Leopoldo Lopez—among others in the opposition—who incited waves of violence and civil unrest in February and March this year, aimed at destabilizing the democratically elected government.
Lopez’s legal team have attempted to make a number of petitions to the judge assigned to the case, including a request for increased freedoms in jail, modification of the charges against him, as well as the submission of new evidence. According to Lopez’s defence lawyers, Judge Barreiros rejected the possibility of submitting new evidence, stating that only the Court of Appeals could receive the requests.
The start of the case was previously adjourned in early August for security reasons, when the three student political leaders being tried alongside Lopez arrived at the court without their lawyers having previously notified relevant authorities.
Whilst Lopez's lawyers have claimed that authorities are attempting to deny Lopez a fair trial, others such as constitutional lawyer, Jesus Silva, state that the new set of requests form part of a time wasting tactic.
“I truly believe that his legal team have read the Constitution and the criminal code of Venezuela, but this is part of an international agenda, to create some impact that Mr Lopez is a political prisoner... Mr Lopez is using this case a political platform,” explained Silva.
Regarding the U.S.'s Thursday statement, it “is full of lies and inaccuracies that aim to distort the reality of our country before the international community," wrote the Venezuelan government in their counter-statement.
The Venezuelan response points out the hypocrisy of the United States, who "systematically violates the human rights of its people and other people around the world," it says.
“The most advanced human rights principles are enshrined in the constitution of the Bolivarian Republic and they form a fundamental component of the morals and ethics of our people,” Venezuela responded.