By Lokman Ilhan
BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) – Venezuela on Saturday denied Guatemala’s president-elect Alejandro Giammattei entry to the country where he was scheduled to meet with opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Giammattei had tried to enter Venezuela with an Italian passport.
The statement also said that Giammattei’s visit was not for touristic or private purposes.
It added that a visit to Venezuela by high-level foreign officials requires both bilateral coordination -- setting an agenda, arranging security, and issuing visas -- and the presentation of credentials and identification of the country.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro wants to establish relations with other countries within the framework of respect and international law, the statement noted.
Since the beginning of the year, Venezuela has been embroiled in political unrest as President Maduro and opposition leader Guaido engaged in a power battle, while the country's economy has been in precipitous decline following a global downturn in the price of crude oil -- the country's main export.
Nearly 5,000 people leave Venezuela every day because of "instability and uncertainty" amid a crisis focused on the presidency and economy. Nearly three million Venezuelans have already left the country since 2015, according to the UN's refugee agency.
*Writing by Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak