February 23, 2011

“Gaddafi not Fleeing to Venezuela” Say Government Officials


Mérida, February 22nd 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - In response to rumours based on a comment made by British Foreign Minister William Hague, Venezuelan authorities have confirmed that Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi has not fled to Venezuela. They also expressed their hopes for a “peaceful” resolution to the protest situation in Libya.

Yesterday Hague stated that he had “seen some information suggesting he [Muammar al-Gaddafi] is on his way there [Venezuela] at the moment”.

Hague made the comment during a meeting of EU foreign ministers, and said his information was “unconfirmed”.

Also, according to Fox News Latino, on Sunday and Monday, “Facebook and Twitter [were] buzzing with rumours that Libya’s long-standing strongman, Muammar al-Qaddafi, has fled to Venezuela to avoid violence and protests”.

Venezuelan Information and Communication Minister, Andres Izarra, told the Associated Press that “it’s false” that Gaddafi is flying to Venezuela. The Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Temir Porras also denied that Gaddafi was traveling to Venezuela.

Venezuela’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also released a statement yesterday, advising that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nicolas Maduro, had communicated by phone with his counterpart in Lybia, Mussa Kussa.

In the conversation, Kussa said Gaddafi remained in Tripoli, “carrying out his duties and tackling the situation in the country”.

Maduro said he hopes the Libyan people “find, in exercising their sovereignty, a peaceful solution to their difficulties, one that preserves the integrity of the people and the Libyan nation, without the interference of imperialism, whose interests in the region have been affected in recent times.”

Maduro and Kussa agreed to stay in contact in order to “exchange firsthand information about the development of the situation”.

Finally, speaking on Libyan television last night Gaddafi himself confirmed that he is in Libya’s capital city of Tripoli.

In response to news reports citing Hague’s “unconfirmed” reports, the Venezuelan Embassy in London released a statement yesterday saying, “Al Jazeera and Associated Press have continually published the statements by Venezuelan authorities. To those British media outlets which published the statement made by Willliam Hague, the Venezuelan Embassy requests that they would equally make clear about the mistaken aspect of such statement.”

According to protest and human rights organisations, there have been at least 560 deaths and over 1000 people have disappeared during the protests in Libya against the government.

Speaking in a national broadcast today, Gaddafi claimed that “western media” was transmitting false information and exaggerating the number of deaths. He argued that the “youth” protesting in Libya were being manipulated by the United States, who he claimed wants to destabilise the country in order to establish a pretext for an invasion of Libya.

To date there have been no official Venezuelan government statements put out or made to the press regarding the massacre of Libyan protestors.

During the protests in Egypt this month, Chavez criticised U.S “meddling” in the issue, and expressed solidarity with the “Arab world”. The Venezuelan government “desires peace and we’ll be with you, Arabic brothers,” he said.

He emphasised that the “sovereignty of these countries [Egypt and Tunisia] be respected” because “declarations are coming from Washington and from other countries in Europe...it’s shameful...to see the interference of the United States, wanting to take control,” he said.

The false rumours regarding Gaddafi fleeing to Venezuela come as many opinion articles published by a range of private media both within Venezuela and internationally, have also suggested that the wave of protests in the Middle East against various dictators, monarchies, and repressive governments, could fireball into Venezuela.

The Miami Herald, in an article yesterday, said, “With dictators toppling like dominoes across the Middle East, Venezuela's president-for-life, Hugo Chávez, is signaling worry about his own despotic rule.”

In 2009, Libya named a football stadium after Hugo Chavez, and recently, during a visit to Venezuela, Gaddafi presented Chavez with a Bedouin tent. Also in 2009, while Chavez was visiting Libya, he commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Libyan “revolution” with Gaddafi. There, Chavez expressed his support for African unity.

Libya and Venezuela, as oil-producing nations, are both members of OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries).

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