Felipe Gonzalez, the Prime Minister of Spain from 1982 to 1996, arrived in Venezuela today and was welcomed at the Simon Bolivar International Airport in Maiquetia by the families of Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma. Gonzalez is in the country after pledging in March to aid in the legal defence of Leopoldo Lopez.
Aside from his experience as Prime Minister of Spain, Gonzalez was also the secretary-general of the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party between 1974 and 1997. Before becoming involved in politics, Gonzalez practised law.
Gonzalez plans to join legal defence teams of Leopoldo Lopez and possibly Antonio Ledezma as an “external technical consultant”, and plans to meet visit Lopez in prison as soon as possible.
Below, a picture showing Gonzalez upon his arrival in Venezuela:
Maduro , TSJ Speak Out Against Gonzalez
Through Twitter, Maduro spoke out against Gonzalez’s arrival and criticized the Venezuelan opposition for what he considers to be appealing to international help.
The homeland is engaged in a battle against entreguismo [from the word “entrego” which means “to give”; akin to, “”giveism”] by a battered and decadent opposition that is powerless and has thus surrendered to foreign interests.
At the same time, Gladys Gutierrez, the president of the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia [Supreme Court] announced today that Gonzalez could not join anyone’s legal defence team since he is not legally allowed to practice law in Venezuela.
[Gonzalez] cannot work as lawyer on a criminal matter inside the national territory since [doing so] would tarnish the Lawyer’s Law and the certification of a professional title as the Magna Carta demans of hose who practice law in our country.
Lopez’s defence team appeared ready for this eventuality. Juan Carlos Gutierrez, one of Lopez’s lawyers, suggested that Gonzalez could simply provide advice to the legal team as a layman, as he has “every right to attend the [court] sessions as a member of the public”.
Venezuela Ranks Last in Rule of Law Index
The World Justice Project – an independent organization that works towards advancing the rule of law around the world – has released its Rule of Law Index for 2015. The index ranks 102 countries around the world in terms of government transparency, corruption, order and security, as well as criminal and civil justice.
Out of all the country’s examined, Venezuela ranked last.
Venezuela received abysmal marks in virtually every category examined. It ranked particularly poorly in the following categories:
- Legislative and judiciary constraints on government power
- Sanctions for official misconduct
- Respect for due process
- Effective correctional system
- No improver government influence in the criminal/civil justice system
- Right to privacy
Afghanistan came in second-last, with Zimbabwe, Cambodia, and Pakistan rounding off the bottom five.
Tintori: Maduro Backed Out of Papal Meeting out of Fear
Leopoldo Lopez’s wife, Lilian Tintori, said today that the reason Maduro backed out of a meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican yesterday was that he knew that the Pope was going to ask him to release the country’s political prisoners.
It’s clear that His Holiness the Pope understands the crisis in Venezuela, and that he was going to ask Maduro to free the political prisoners. That’s why he didn’t go. The fact that this meeting didn’t take place only drives us to take to the streets peacefully and in prayer…
Below, pictures showing Lilian Tintori and Patricia de Ceballos accompanied by other opposition figures and supporters at a candlelight vigil last night:
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