Spain ex-premier plans Venezuela trip to help politician

AP News
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Posted: Jun 03, 2015 10:04 AM

MADRID (AP) — A former Spanish prime minister hopes to travel to Venezuela this weekend to help lawyers defending imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

Felipe Gonzalez will travel to Colombia on Thursday and will decide after arriving in Bogota whether to visit Venezuela, according to Gonzalez's spokesman, Joaquin Tagar.

Gonzalez was widely criticized by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro after announcing he would advise Lopez and his supporters.

Tagar said Wednesday that Gonzalez needs to assess Venezuelan reaction to his planned trip before deciding whether to fly to Caracas.

Venezuela's Foreign Ministry has said that Gonzalez isn't "welcome" in the South American country.

The former prime minister is a lawyer and led Spain from 1982 to 1996.

Lopez has been jailed for 15 months in connection with his leadership of Venezuela's spring 2014 protests. He declared a hunger strike on May 24 to demand the scheduling of legislative elections that the administration has promised to hold sometime in November or December, and the release of imprisoned opposition politicians like himself, who human rights groups consider political prisoners.

Lopez has not been seen in public since he stopped eating. His attorneys have said he has become quite thin, but haven't provided any more details about his condition.