Former Spanish PM Gonzalez to visit Venezuela to help the defense of jailed opposition leaders

Former Spanish prime minister Felipe Gonzalez says he plans to travel to Venezuela to help defend two jailed opposition leaders, despite the disapproval of the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Gonzalez says in a statement Saturday that he hopes to visit Venezuela on May 18-20 to give legal advice to lawyers defending Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma, mayor of Caracas.

Gonzalez, 73, led Spain's government from 1982 to 1996. He says he conveyed his intentions to Maduro's government through the Spanish embassy.

Gonzalez says Venezuela replied in a statement saying he "would not be welcome" and that he will "receive no help whatsoever."

The statement described Gonzalez's intended visit as "an unfriendly act clearly seeking to generate a matrix of opinion against Venezuela."