Spain protests over Euro MP's expulsion

16th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Spain’s government summons Venezuelan envoy to complain over the expulsion of PP member Luis Herrero but maintains the incident will not harm ties Venezuela.

MADRID – Spain's government complained to the Venezuelan ambassador Saturday over the expulsion from Venezuela of a Spanish member of the European Parliament, a foreign ministry source said.

Ambassador Alfredo Toro Hardy met the director general of foreign policy for South America, Juan Carlos Sanchez, for about 45 minutes to hear Spain's protest over the "treatment" of Euro MP Luis Herrero, a member of the right-of-centre Popular Party (PP).

But both sides reaffirmed the good relations between the two countries and expressed confidence that the case was "an isolated incident", the source said.

Herrero was kicked out of Venezuela on Friday after he called President Hugo Chavez a "dictator" and criticised the electoral council, ahead of a referendum that would allow Chavez to run for office indefinitely.

He had been invited by a Venezuelan opposition party to observe Sunday's referendum on a change to the constitution which would allow unlimited terms for elected officials.

Chavez said the expulsion would "not tarnish" relations with Spain.

"We condemn the inappropriate expulsion of Popular Party Euro MP Luis Herrero," Jorge Moragas, PP's coordinator of international affairs, told reporters.

"This Euro MP was part of a European Popular Party delegation whose goal was to watch for the democratic character of the referendum, which could transform the Chavez regime into a formal dictatorship," Moragas said.

A PP spokesman said Herrero had flown from Venezuela to Sao Paulo in Brazil, from where he was awaiting a flight to Spain.

Herrero earlier called on Venezuelans to vote freely, in comments to journalists.

"They should never be carried away when they vote by the fear that a dictator tries to impose in a premeditated way," Herrero said.

A local opposition party had invited the European lawmaker to Venezuela to observe Sunday's referendum on a change to the constitution which would allow unlimited term limits for elected officials.

[AFP / Expatica]

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