Venezuela to protest French prime minister’s letter to opposition

CARACAS, (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro yesterday said his government will summon France’s ambassador to protest a letter by that country’s prime minister congratulating the opposition for winning a congressional majority this month.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls’ letter called the results a “large and uncontestable victory” and expressed hope for the release of “unfairly convicted prisoners of conscience” such as jailed opposition activist Leopoldo Lopez.

“I have told the foreign minister to issue a strong note of protest and to summon the ambassador of France in Venezuela to very clearly explain the conditions for maintaining relations with a free and independent country,” Maduro said in a televised broadcast. “I reject and repudiate the insolent, interventionist and immoral statements by France’s prime minister.”

Valls addressed the Dec. 14 letter to Jesus Torrealba, head of the opposition’s Democratic Unity coalition. On Thursday, he posted a copy of the letter on his Twitter account.

“I wanted to warmly congratulate you and all democratic Venezuelans,” reads Valls letter. “The victory of your coalition opens new perspectives for democracy in Venezuela.”

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