They demand institutions and public opinion their ‘support and scrutiny’ so that the elections can be held ‘with guarantees, competitiveness and transparency’
They denounce the use of the courts to convict leaders of the democratic opposition, like Leopoldo López, or to persecute them
Signatories: E. Duhalde and F. de la Rúa (Argentina), J. Quiroga (Bolivia), FH Cardoso (Brazil), S. Piñera, R. Lagos and E. Frei (Chile) A. Pastrana, Á. Uribe, B. Betancur and C. Gaviria (Colombia) M. Á. Rodríguez, R. Á. Calderon L. Chinchilla, LA Monge and O. Arias (Costa Rica), O. Hurtado and L. Gutierrez, (Ecuador) A. Cristiani and A. Calderon Sol (El Salvador), JM Aznar and F. González (Spain), V. F. Calderon and Fox (Mexico), M. Moscoso, N. Ardito and R. Martinelli (Panama) JC Wasmosy (Paraguay), A. Toledo (Peru) and LA Lacalle and JM Sanguinetti (Uruguay)
31 former presidents of Spain and Latin America, including the former Prime Minister and president of FAES Foundation, José María Aznar, have joined again to denounce the deterioration of democratic guarantees in Venezuela. Today, September 23, they have issued a new statement on the upcoming electoral process for the parliamentary elections of December 6. In the document, the signatories have called for ‘an impartial and technically qualified international observation by the United Nations, the Organization of American States and the European Union’. The group of former heads of state and government, likewise, have demanded institutions and the international public opinion a ‘strong support and scrutiny’ to ensure that these elections are held ‘with guarantees, fair competition and transparency.’ ‘The statement was presented this afternoon in Bogotá by the former president of Colombia, Andrés Pastrana.
The former presidents have stressed their concern ‘about Venezuela’s use of the courts to convict leaders of the democratic opposition, like Leopoldo López, or to persecute them, like Antonio Ledezma, Daniel Ceballos or Maria Corina Machado’. In this regard, they recall that ‘The United Nations has expressed concern about the lack of independence of the judiciary from the Venezuelan Executive Branch and has asserted that López was arbitrarily imprisoned’, in addition to receiving information ‘about irregularities during his trial, such as the lack of evidence for the prosecution, the rejecting of defence witnesses and comments against him expressed by senior government officials.’
The declaration has been signed by then former presidents of Argentina, Eduardo Duhalde and Fernando de la Rua; of Brazil, Fernando H. Cardoso; of Bolivia, Jorge Quiroga; of Chile, Sebastian Piñera, Ricardo Lagos and Eduardo Frei; of Colombia, Andrés Pastrana, Uribe, Cesar Gaviria and Belisario Betancur; of Costa Rica, Miguel Angel Rodriguez, Rafael Angel Calderon, Laura Chinchilla Oscar Arias and Luis Alberto Monge; of Ecuador, Lucio Gutierrez and Osvaldo Hurtado; of El Salvador, Alfredo Cristiani and Armando Calderon Sol; of Spain, José María Aznar and Felipe González; of Mexico, Felipe Calderon and Vicente Fox; of Panama, Mireya Moscoso, Nicolas Ardito-Barletta and Ricardo Martinelli; of Paraguay, Juan Carlos Wasmosy; of Peru, Alejandro Toledo; of Uruguay, Luis Alberto Lacalle and Sanguinetti.
PROTECTING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Aznar and the rest of former presidents have also warned of ‘the establishment of a state of emergency, the closure of the border between Venezuela and Colombia and the contempt of the Supreme Court of the judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights requiring the restoration of the guarantee of freedom of speech.’ ‘Free elections and freedom of speech are the foundations of democracy. Therefore it is imperative that they are protected and guaranteed in the political debate that precedes every election,’ they stated.
The former presidents, grouped around the Democratic Initiative of Spain and the Americas, IDEA, had already signed the Declarations of Panama and Caracas, denouncing the worsening of the political, social and economic situation of Venezuela, requesting the Government of Nicolas Maduro to respect the constitutional and democratic principles and international standards, and demanding him to release political prisoners.