Venezuela’s National Assembly under Siege

Political opponents of the Maduro regime are fearing and fleeing for their lives.
Philip Terzian/ShareAmerica | 19 July 2019

Transnational Threats

Opposition Caracas deputy Gilber Caro, (2R) seen here in a 2016 photo arguing with supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, was arrested this past April of 2019, and hasn’t been seen since. His lawyer considers him disappeared. (Federico Parra, AFP)

Harass. Detain. That’s what the Maduro regime does to its opponents in Venezuela’s National Assembly, the country’s sole surviving democratic institution.

On January 13, the regime’s Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) arrested and detained Interim President Juan Guaidó. When the United States and the international community, including the Organization of American States, swiftly condemned the action, Guaidó was released.

What other government figures has Maduro harassed or detained? Some 67 Assembly deputies, says Caracas’ Analítica. That’s nearly two-thirds of the duly elected opposition bloc reporting harassment, imprisonment or worse.

Sometimes the Maduro regime moves beyond harassment, beyond imprisonment, all the way to torture. Example: popular Caracas deputy Gilber Caro. Held repeatedly by Maduro’s intelligence service, Caro has been a victim of SEBIN torture and given only starvation rations. Caro was arrested again in April and hasn’t been seen since. His lawyer considers him “disappeared.”

Other legislators, elected by the Venezuelan people, have been forced to seek refuge in foreign embassies: deputy Freddy Guevara in Chile’s, deputy Americo de Grazia at Italy’s and deputy Franco Manuel Casella in Mexico’s. Deputy Richard Blanco is now a “guest” of the Argentine ambassador. A dozen more of their National Assembly colleagues have fled to neighboring countries.

In May, Maduro’s regime arrested the National Assembly’s first vice president, Édgar Zambrano. He remains in custody.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Zambrano’s illegal imprisonment “an attack on the independence of [Venezuela’s] democratically elected legislative branch.” In an interview, Pompeo said, “Our task is to continue to support all those who are supporting Juan Guaidó.”

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