Panama grants asylum to Venezuelans diplomat and magistrate

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  • Wed, 08/16/2017 - 19:01
Gabriel Perez
  • EFE

Panama.- The Panamanian government granted political asylum to two Venezuelans, magistrate Jose Sabino Zamora and former secretary of the Venezuelan embassy in Panama, Gabriel Perez, on the grounds that they "are at risk in their country".

"In solidarity with its humanitarian situation, the Panamanian government has acceded to both asylum applications, in order to guarantee personal freedoms, which are at risk in their country," said the Foreign Ministry.

Zamora, who is one of 33 magistrates selected by the opposition majority parliament and whose designation was not recognized by the government of Nicolás Maduro, is currently in the Panamanian Embassy in Caracas, with two other members of the group of judges who requested protection on August 4, explained the Attorney General.

Perez is currently in Panama, where on July 28 announced his resignation as second secretary and deputy consul of the Venezuelan Embassy, ​​in rejection of the Constituent Assembly installed by Maduro.

The Panamanian government once again urged the Venezuelan president to respect democratic order, human rights and freedoms and urged him to "negotiate a political solution under the current Constitution" of 1999.

Panamanian Vice President and Foreign Minister Isabel De Saint Malo said last week that the country is in the process of obtaining a safe-conduct to remove the two judges who sought asylum earlier this month, Gustavo Sosa Izaguirre and Manuel Antonio Espinoza.

At the beginning of the recent Venezuelan crisis, Panama opted for dialogue, but in recent weeks has hardened its speech and joined the group of countries and international organizations which do not recognize the new Constituent Assembly and ask for free elections.

De Saint Malo, in fact, participated last August 8 in the meeting of foreign ministers called urgently in Lima, Peru, to condemn the situation in Venezuela and said recently that the Central American country does not rule out withdrawing its ambassador in Caracas.

In an urgent procedure in December 2015, the Venezuelan Parliament, then controlled by the chavismo, appointed dozens of judges just after the liberal opposition victory in the legislative elections of December 6 and before they had to transfer the parliament to the new majority.

Last July 21, the opposition parliament approved the nominations of the new magistrates, but the highest court did not recognize the appointments and warned the 33 jurists that they were incurring "treason crimes."

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