By Z.C. Dutka
Santa Elena de Uairén, May 6th 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - Cuban Rene Gonzalez, famously accused of espionage by the United States government and imprisoned 13 years in Miami, was received in the Venezuelan capital yesterday by foreign minister Elias Jaua. His arrival marks Gonzalez’s first trip abroad since he was released to Cuba by U.S. authorities in October of 2011.
Gonzalez, whose controversial imprisonment made him and his companions household names in Cuba, commonly referred to as the Cuban 5, indicated his eagerness at visiting the remains of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, held at the Mountain Barracks, a military museum in Caracas.
“I had the tremendous privilege [of meeting Chavez],” recalled the ex-prisoner. “I owed him this visit. I had wished to give him a hug in person but it couldn’t be.”
“Hugo Chavez was a volcano that flowed past us, leaving a different Latin America behind,” he said.
Among his welcoming party were also Cuban ambassador to Venezuela, Rogelio Polanco, and governor of Vargas state, Jorge Luis Garcia Carneiro. Executive vice-president, Jorge Arreaza, indicated it was “an honor and a privilege” to receive such a visit.
When asked his opinion of the recent violent anti-government protests that have wracked Venezuela, Gonzalez replied with diffidence.
“Without presuming to interfere in another country’s affairs, I believe in this case there is a clear option of violence, while the other is to seek solutions to the country’s problems by nonviolent methods. I am sure that the majority of Venezuelans are inclined toward the nonviolent route.”
He recalled the Cuban government’s experience with “destabilization attempts,” and warned of how international media may broadcast one-sided coverage of the protests in “manipulative” attempts to make it appear that all Venezuelan society rejects the elected government.
“Their manual consists of dividing societies…. we must remain united, we cannot allow ourselves to be divided,” Gonzalez said.
The Cuban public figure finished his visit by placing flowers at a statue of 19th century freedom fighter Simon Bolivar, in the center of Caracas.