Venezuela lawmaker seeks help in Europe
September 04 2017 10:00 PM
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AFP Caracas

Venezuela’s opposition is seeking the assistance of Europe’s elected leaders

One of Venezuela’s leading opposition figures, national assembly leader Julio Borges, was in Europe yesterday ahead of meetings with European leaders for talks on Venezuela’s deadly political crisis, he said. Borges was due to meet with the leaders of France, Germany, Spain and Britain.
“The first meeting Borges has is with French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday; then on Tuesday he will go to Madrid for a meeting with Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy,” according to a statement.
Tomorrow, Borges, who leads the opposition-dominated assembly that President Nicolas Maduro has effectively shut down, meets in Berlin with Chancellor Angela Merkel, ahead of a stop in London for a private meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May.
On Saturday, Lilian Tintori, an activist and wife of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, said on Twitter that Venezuelan immigration officials confiscated her passport on orders from the chief prosecutor’s office.
The Venezuelan government, which has denounced concerns raised by Britain and other countries over the action, says she was barred from leaving the country because she is under investigation for alleged corruption.
Police last week found 205mn bolivars — $61,000 at the official exchange rate and $11,000 at the black market rate — in a vehicle she owns.
The assembly’s number two official, Freddy Guevara said on Twitter that he was with Borges on the trip and brought along Tintori’s concerns.
Tintori, who has been summoned to appear in court today, has denounced the investigation as an attempt to prevent her from speaking out about the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.
She has said the money was for family emergencies, including the hospitalisation of an uninsured 100-year-old aunt.
International powers accuse Maduro of dismantling democracy by taking over state institutions in order to resist opposition pressure for him to quit, amid an economic crisis that has caused shortages of food and medicine.
“I was ready to report that there are human rights violations in Venezuela; that it is a dictatorship, that there are 590 political prisoners; and that 53% of our children are malnourished,” she stressed Saturday.
Tintori’s husband was sentenced in 2015 to nearly 14 years in prison on charges of inciting deadly violence in street protests.
In July, Lopez was moved to his home and placed under house arrest after spending nearly 3.5 years in a military prison.
Venezuela is suffering an economic crisis that has caused epic food and medicine shortages.
Prosecutors say some 130 people were killed this year in four months of anti-government protests. Maduro says the crisis is a US-backed conspiracy.
Maduro will address the opening day of a three-week UN Human Rights Council session on September 11, a United Nations spokesman said yesterday.
Maduro’s government has been criticised by Washington, the United Nations and major Latin American nations for overriding Venezuela’s opposition-led Congress, cracking down on protests, jailing hundreds of foes and failing to allow the entry of foreign humanitarian aid to ease a severe economic crisis.
“We received a ‘note verbale’ today that he is coming,” UN human rights spokesman Rolando Gomez said. “He will be speaking at the opening of the council session.”

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