Czech Foreign Ministry on Venezuela: political pressure from outside is essential

Nicolas Maduro, photo: ČTK/AP/Ariana Cubillos

The Czech Foreign Ministry has expressed deep concern over the re-election of leftist authoritarian leader Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela’s presidential election at the weekend. The ministry joined widespread international condemnation of election irregularities, intimidation of political opponents and violations of human rights.

Nicolas Maduro,  photo: ČTK/AP/Ariana Cubillos
While Maduro, the 55-year-old successor to late leftist leader Hugo Chavez, hailed his win in Sunday’s election as a victory against “imperialism”, opposition parties denounced it as a farce and the international community condemned the autocratic practices of the regime that kept Maduro in power. The United States, Canada, the European Union and a dozen Latin American countries have refused to recognize the result, fourteen countries have recalled their ambassadors from Venezuela and the US has imposed new economic sanctions against the regime.

The Czech Foreign Ministry issued a statement criticizing the election irregularities, intimidation of political opponents and widespread violations of human rights. Spokeswoman Irena Valentova sums up the ministry’s stance.

“These elections did not adhere to basic democratic rules and the participation of international observer missions was not allowed. Attacks against political parties continue on a daily basis in Venezuela and human rights and fundamental freedoms are not fully respected.

“The local population lacks basis services and food products and the crime rate is constantly growing. We are calling on the Venezuelan government to launch a constructive dialogue with the opposition, to release all political prisoners and to embark on a path to restore order and democratic freedoms in the country.”

Photo: ČTK/AP/Fernando Llano
Czech expats living in Venezuela have started returning to the Czech Republic due to the bad economic situation and political oppression. Czechs who fled Czechoslovakia in 1948 and 1968 to escape the totalitarian regime in their homeland are now asking for repatriation. According to the Foreign Ministry there are some 500 Czech expats living in Venezuela today, of which some 240 have reportedly asked to be repatriated. The Czech Interior Ministry, which is organizing the process, says around thirty people have already moved to the Czech Republic and others will follow.

As a country which experienced four decades of totalitarian rule, the Czech Republic recognizes the importance of sustained political pressure and support from abroad. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Irena Valentova again.

“The Czech Republic will continue with its support of the EU’s policy towards Venezuela, given that only political pressure from the international community and regional organizations can lead to a peaceful political solution.”