Felipe Gonzalez will travel to Venezuela despite Maduro snub

Washington, May 15 (EFE).- Spain's former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez announced he will proceed to Venezuela on Monday to join the legal defense team of jailed opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma, despite objections from the Venezuelan government.

In a communiqué, seen by Efe on Thursday, from the Venezuelan foreign ministry to the Spanish embassy in Caracas, the government of President Nicolas Maduro said Gonzalez was "not welcome" in Venezuela and warned it will not provide him any support.

"The negative attitude of the Venezuelan government will not stop me, as I am acting on my convictions and principles, on something I believe in," Gonzalez said in Washington, at a function held by the wives of the opposition leaders and Venezuelan opposition lawyer Tamara Suju.

Ledezma's lawyer Omar Estacio told Efe that Gonzalez is scheduled to reach Caracas on Monday at around 08:30 (13:00 GMT).

Gonzalez, a Socialist who governed Spain from 1982-1996, will arrive in Venezuela weeks after announcing his interest in providing "technical support" to the defense of Ledezma and Lopez, accused of instigating violent anti-government protests.

His decision to help defend the opposition figures was disparaged by Venezuelan authorities and, after news of his trip became public, the former Spanish leader was declared persona non grata by Venezuela's National Assembly.

Gonzalez said he will not "provoke any incident" or "create a scandal at the border" if the Maduro government prevents him from entering Venezuelan territory.