The foreign ministers of France and Spain condemned the Venezuelan government's decision to expel a group of European Union legislators who had traveled to the country on a fact-finding mission last Monday and had wanted to meet with interim president Juan Guaidó. Josep Borrell for Spain and Jean-Yves Le Drian for France, protested in Brussels for the decision of the power group of Nicolás Maduro to expel the EU legislators.
"Naturally, we would have liked to have entered and condemned the attitude of Maduro's Venezuelan government, a government that, as you know, is being questioned", Borrell told reporters upon reaching the Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Union. "We strongly protest how five European Union lawmakers who were in Venezuela to express their concern about the country's democratic processes have been expelled", Le Drian said. The group, headed by the Spanish MEP Esteban González Pons, had received an invitation from the National Assembly and had to hold a meeting with Guaidó.
"Our passports have been withheld, they have not communicated the reason for the expulsion, nor do we have any document that justifies why they are driving us out of the country", Pons said in a video recorded at the Maiquetía airport. Borrell said he was in contact with the Spanish ambassador in Caracas, who "made all possible arrangements with the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to request and facilitate the entry of these parliamentarians". The Spanish diplomat added that all the efforts of the ambassador had been in vain, "and the latest news is that they have not been able to enter even though we have done everything possible to make this happen". The representative of Spain acknowledged that there were problems with the situation in Venezuela "that could be more important".
Borrell said he expects a technical mission sent to Venezuela by the international contact group sponsored by the EU to enter the country this week, as scheduled, to meet with all parties in the country affected by the crisis.
"Soon they will go to Caracas, if they allow it, I hope they do", said Borrell. He added that both Spain and Portugal had encouraged the creation of that mission at a recent meeting in Uruguay, where the first international contact group on Venezuela was held.
He also stated that the task of the technical group would be to see what steps should be taken, what deadlines are set and how to try to boost the electoral process. The work of the contact group will be addressed by the EU's foreign ministers at a meeting in Brussels on Monday, said Borrell, who also added that Europe has insisted on the convening of a free presidential election in Venezuela.
In relation to the announcement of the vice president of the United States, Mike Pence, that Europe should recognize Guaidó as president, Borrel assured that "it is clear that the position of Spain and the EU is to recognize him as interim president... we have to act in accordance with the law and not only accept the request of the United States".
Borrell said that as a recognized interim president, Guaidó's task should be to call elections as soon as possible. "We will do everything possible to try to avoid by all means a military escalation", said Borrell. US President Donald Trump has alluded to the possibility of sending troops to Venezuela.