SANTIAGO – Chile has granted diplomatic asylum to five Venezuelan citizens who had been staying at the Chilean Embassy in Caracas, Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz said Tuesday.
“The time has come to honor our commitment and our solidarity, and so the government of Chile has decided to grant diplomatic asylum to these five Venezuelan citizens,” Foreign Minister Muñoz said.
Asylum has been awarded to Judges Elenis del Valle Rodriguez Martinez, Luis Manuel Del Valle Marcano Salazar, Jose Fernando Nuñez Sifontes, Beatriz Josefina Ruiz and Zuleima Del Valle, who had all applied for it this Monday.
“They looked for different ways to resolve their respective situations, including as attorneys’ advisors. However, those attempts were unsuccessful and yesterday they formally applied to Chile for asylum,” Muñoz said.
For several weeks these five Venezuelan citizens, who were named judges of the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) by the National Assembly legislature with its opposition majority, were in the position of guests at the Chilean Embassy in Venezuela, after asking for protection from the alleged “political persecution” by the Nicolas Maduro government.
The Venezuelan National Assembly designated 33 judges to substitute the same number hurriedly appointed by the previous legislature when it saw it was losing its Chavista majority.
After granting the judges asylum, Chilean authorities asked their Venezuelan counterparts for the corresponding letters of safe-conducts so they could leave their country.
The head of Chilean diplomacy on Tuesday again expressed his hope that “the crisis the Venezuelan people are going through will be resolved as soon as possible,” in order to “reestablish the democratic order and respect for human rights” by “peaceful means.”
This has been the position of Chile and other countries that signed the Declaration of Lima, which condemns the violence and breakdown of democracy in Venezuela, while refusing to accept any actions taken by the new Constituent Assembly, Muñoz said.
Also staying since last April at the residence of the Chilean ambassador to Chile, Pedro Felipe Ramirez, is Roberto Rodriguez, leader of Venezuela’s opposition Copei party.
Foreign Minister Muñoz ended his statement with a call for “other friendly embassies to show their solidarity” by opening their doors to Venezuelans in need of protection.
Up to now it has been confirmed that five judges are in the Chilean Embassy in Caracas, three in the Panamanian Embassy, and one more in that of Mexico.