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Venezuela op­po­si­tion leader seeks refuge

- Latin America News · Politics · Elections · Venezuela · Caracas · Santiago · Popular Will · Chile · Nicolás Maduro · Colombia · Augusto Pinochet · Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries · Hugo Chavez · Michelle Bachelet · Copei · María Isabel Allende

CARACAS/SAN­TI­AGO: Prom­i­nent Venezue­lan op­po­si­tion politi­cian Freddy Gue­vara has sought refuge in the Chilean am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence in Caracas af­ter au­thor­i­ties tried to re­move his con­gres­sional im­mu­nity so he could be tried for in­sti­gat­ing vi­o­lence.

Gue­vara, 31, who runs the hard­line Pop­u­lar Will party and is also the deputy leader of congress, en­tered the res­i­dence on Satur­day and re­quested pro­tec­tion, the Chilean gov­ern­ment said in a state­ment.

“In the face of what he deemed im­me­di­ate threats against his se­cu­rity and per­sonal well-be­ing, he has re­quested the pro­tec­tion of Chile,” the state­ment read.

Crit­ics say so­cial­ist Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro has turned the Opec na­tion into a dic­ta­tor­ship by rig­ging elec­tions and jail­ing dis­senters.

His sup­port­ers say the 54-yearold suc­ces­sor to late leader Hugo Chavez is re­sist­ing a US-backed push to oust him.

“In the face of a dic­ta­tor­ship that vi­o­lates hu­man rights and con­stantly at­tacks demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions, the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity must con­tinue to be firm and stand with those per­se­cuted for their pol­i­tics and all the Venezue­lan peo­ple,” the Pop­u­lar Will party tweeted late on Satur­day, thank­ing Chile for its help.

The Chilean res­i­dence in Caracas had al­ready taken in five mag­is­trates named by the op­po­si­tion-run congress af­ter they were threat­ened with jail time.

They then fled over the bor­der to Colom­bia last month be­fore fly­ing to San­ti­ago to be re­ceived by left­ist Michelle Bachelet’s gov­ern­ment, which has joined a cho­rus of ma­jor Latin Amer­i­can na­tions in de­nounc­ing Maduro.

Venezue­lan op­po­si­tion COPEI party mem­ber Roberto En­riquez is still holed up in the Caracas res­i­dence.

In a sym­bolic par­al­lel, sev­eral thousand Chileans, in­clud­ing nov­el­ist Is­abel Al­lende, who fled Au­gusto Pinochet’s dic­ta­tor­ship in the 1970s, found ex­ile in then-boom­ing Venezuela. – Reuters

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