Paris | France denied on Friday that Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido had taken refuge in his embassy in Caracas, as Venezuelan foreign minister Jorge Arreaza said when he demanded his arrest.
“Mr. Juan Guaido is not at France’s (ambassador’s) residence in Caracas,” said French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnès von der Mühll.
“He is not in any of our precincts” in Caracas, she added, when questioned by the AFP, noting that France had “confirmed it to the Venezuelan authorities on several occasions”.
The Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday that the opponent was in the “French Embassy” and that another opponent, Leopoldo Lopez, had taken refuge in the residence of the Spanish ambassador.
“We cannot enter the premises of an embassy of any country (…) and ensure that Justice [les] forcibly arrest, “he added, referring to the inviolability of diplomatic representations.
Attorney General Tarek William Saab accuses Juan Guaido of having fomented an attempted invasion with the complicity of the United States in early May, and of encouraging destabilizing actions “in the midst of a pandemic” of the new coronavirus.
“It is a shame for the diplomacy of Spain, it is a shame for the diplomacy of France what happened and they will pay the price very, very soon”, hammered the head of the Venezuelan diplomacy.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had previously suggested on Monday that his rival Juan Guaido may have been “hiding in an embassy”.
For “free elections”
A total of 45 people, including two former American soldiers, were arrested for their alleged involvement in this failed “invasion”, which involved a landing of men on May 3 in Macuto, less than an hour’s drive from Caracas on the Caribbean coast. Washington denied any involvement.
In March, Juan Guaido had already been summoned by the prosecution for an investigation into “attempted coup” and “attempted murder” against President Nicolas Maduro.
The United States, which calls the Socialist president “dictator” and wants him to fall, has imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s crude oil exports, as well as against many government and military officials in the country.
Nicolas Maduro, in power since 2013, enjoys the support of Cuba, China and Russia.
Iran, too, sent a first oil tanker very demonstratively on May 26 to alleviate the difficulties of the local crude oil extraction and refining industry, on its knees due to the severe economic crisis in Venezuela.
Like France and Spain, some fifty countries in the world recognize Mr. Guaido as interim president, rather than Mr. Maduro, elected head of state, according to them, by serious irregularities.
“Only a democratic path and free, transparent and credible elections will make it possible to (…) durably resolve” the political crisis in Venezuela “and put an end to the suffering of the Venezuelan population,” said the Quai d’Orsay in calling for the search for a “political solution” between the two camps.
Diplomatic tensions arose in May between Paris and Caracas over the treatment of the French ambassador to Venezuela, Romain Nadal.
Since May 2, Venezuelan police have been permanently guarding the street where he resides and his residence is deprived of water and electricity.
France summoned the Venezuelan ambassador to Paris on May 14 to protest against this situation which “undermines the normal functioning” of a diplomatic representation.