Venezuela: Opposition lawmakers seek refuge in embassies to avoid arrest

April FrancisMay 12, 2019

However, days after the failed coup, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence announced the withdrawal of the sanctions.

Maduro's government has so far avoided arresting Guaido, which would likely provoke a strong backlash.

The EU and several of Venezuela's neighbours protested Mr Zambrano's arrest while the country's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza vowed to bring to justice "accomplices to an unconstitutional military uprising".

Zambrano was transferred to the headquarters of the military police in Caracas's largest military complex, Fort Tiuna, the court said.

The Southern Command said in a tweet on Thursday that it was prepared to discuss "how we can support the future role" of Venezuelan armed forces leaders who "restore constitutional order", when invited by Guaido.

One of the other charged lawmakers, Luis Florido, announced in a video on Friday that he had fled to neighboring Colombia, "sheltered from a regime that is willing to imprison deputies", he said.

Three others - Richard Blanco, Mariela Magallanes and Americo De Grazia - have sought refuge in the Argentine and Italian embassies in Caracas.

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"From the moment of the arrest, they have violated the deputy's rights".

The latest regime actions ratcheted up tensions ahead of a national demonstration Guaido called for Saturday to reject measures taken by the Supreme Court against opposition lawmakers. "We did not have access to the file, nor could we be appointed in his defence", Camejo told reporters.

US President Donald Trump - whose government was among the first to back Juan Guaido - said he was "discussing the awful abuses by Maduro".

Last week, Leopoldo Lopez - Guaido's political mentor - moved into Spain's diplomatic residence after escaping house arrest to appear alongside Guaido during his call for the military to rise up. The politician commented on events live on Twitter as they unfolded.

On Wednesday, Edgar Zambrano, the opposition-run National Assembly's vice president, said he had been arrested by intelligence agents.

Guaido invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency in January, arguing Maduro's 2018 reelection was illegitimate.

More than 3 million Venezuelans have left their homeland in recent years amid skyrocketing inflation and severe shortages of food and medicine. About 50 countries, including the United States and much of Latin America, have recognized Guaido as the country's legitimate leader.

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