February 18, 2017 / 10:17 PM / 6 months ago

'Venezuela is not a democracy' Argentina's Macri tells Spanish media

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri addresses the media during a news conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, February 16, 2017.Martin Acosta

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina's President Mauricio Macri used some of his harshest language yet against Venezuela's socialist government in comments to Spanish media published on Saturday ahead of his trip to Madrid.

"Enough with euphemisms, Venezuela is not a democracy," the center-right Macri said, according to leading newspaper El Pais.

"I know what the Venezuelan people are suffering, I think what we have to have is a firm position, without euphemisms, saying that in Venezuela democracy and human rights are not respected," Macri said.

He said Argentina would help end "this social, political and economic conflict," where it could, according to the paper.

The comments came days after Macri, who took office in late 2015 ending a decade of leftist rule, spoke to U.S. President Donald Trump. Both shared their "concern" over Venezuela in a Wednesday phone call, Macri's spokesman told Reuters.

Later that day Trump called on Venezuela to release opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who was sentenced last year to nearly 14 years in prison on charges of inciting anti-government protests in 2014.

Reporting by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Mary Milliken

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