Chavez doesn't get democracy: expelled Euro MP

17th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Despite being expelled from Venezuela for calling President Hugo Chavez a dictator, Popular Party member Luis Herrero says he does not regret his actions.

MADRID – A European Parliament deputy who was expelled from Venezuela ahead of Sunday's referendum on term limits charged that President Hugo Chavez fails to understand "the rules of democracy."

Luis Herrero, a member of Spain's conservative opposition Popular Party, told reporters at Madrid airport that he regretted "absolutely nothing" after calling Chavez a "dictator" while visiting Caracas.

Chavez "is a guy who does not understand the rules of democracy," Herrero said as Venezuelans voted Sunday on whether to lift term limits for elected officials, including president, which would allow Chavez to run for office indefinitely.

Herrero, who had been invited by an opposition party to observe the vote, was expelled Friday after calling Chavez a dictator and criticising the electoral council.

Spain's foreign ministry summoned Venezuelan ambassador Alfredo Toro Hardy on Saturday to protest the expulsion.

"Six 'gorillas' shoved me into a white car, without any explanation," Herrero said in a statement published in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo. "I asked them to let me at least get my bags, but the only response I had was a huge hand on my neck and another on my left arm."

The Venezuelan embassy late Sunday denied that Herrero had suffered any mistreatment, and said his presence in the country was a "destabilising factor" during the referendum.

"The public statements from Mr Herrero were an affront to the harmony and the peace of the country, promoting doubts about the spotlessness of the Venezuelan electoral process and on the electoral arbitrator," it said in a statement.

"We also wish to categorically deny the fallacious allegations... according to which he was treated in an abusive manner by the Venezuelan police authorities who took him to the airport."

Chavez has called Herrero a "shameful lawmaker" who showed "disrespect" to Venezuela, but added that the "regrettable incident" would "not tarnish" relations with Spain.

[AFP / Expatica]

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