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Chancellor Ampuero meets with former Venezuelan political prisoner and reiterates that Chile does not recognize Maduro's regime

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Roberto Ampuero, met today with Lorent Saleh, a young Venezuelan and human rights activist, who was imprisoned, in appalling conditions, for 4 years and 1 month, without an arrest warrant, a preliminary detention hearing, a trial, or the slightest respect for procedural guarantees such as the right to see a lawyer, or the existence of a firm sentence against him.

"Talking to Lorent Saleh is really shocking. He is currently in Chile recounting his experience of having lived more than four years in a dungeon subjected to all kinds of torture," said the Foreign Minister after the meeting. The Secretary of State recalled that Saleh saved his life mainly because the European Parliament awarded him the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Conscience while he was deprived of his liberty. "This, and the international tension that it aroused, made it possible for Lorent Saleh to finally get out of prison at the end of 2018," he explained.

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The Minister also took the opportunity to reiterate that the Government "fully supports the Venezuelan people in their struggle to regain democracy and supports the National Assembly and its president, Juan Guaidó, in the attempts to re-establish democracy in Venezuela," adding that Chile "supports alternatives that are peaceful, involve non-violence and also entail dialogue".

Regarding not having invited the Venezuelan Ambassador in Chile to the reception offered today by the President of the Republic, Sebastián Piñera, to the diplomatic corps accredited in the country, the Minister explained that this was due to the fact that "Chile, like many other countries, does not recognize the government of Nicolás Maduro. It does not recognize it because it emerged from undemocratic elections, without transparency, without international observers, and of which very important sectors of the opposition were marginalized".

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Colombia and Bolivia

With regard to the recent attack in Bogotá perpetrated by the ELN, the Minister reiterated Chile's condemnation and solidarity with the Colombian Government and people. In addition, he affirmed that Chile, as a guarantor country in the process of dialogue that Colombia has with this armed group, is "always willing to participate in those meetings that take place between the parties".

Finally, consulted by the statements of Bolivian President Evo Morales, who again insisted that the maritime demand is more valid than ever and that after the ruling of the Court a new relationship had been established between Chile and Bolivia to explore solutions, the Minister said that "I would recommend President Evo Morales to read the ruling of the International Court of Justice before giving his opinion on this situation".