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Venezuelan court issues warrants for new opposition leaders: AG


Venezuela’s chief prosecutor Tarek William Saab holds a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela May 8, 2020. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero/File Photo

Venezuela’s attorney general said on Monday that a court in the country has issued arrest warrants for the new leadership of the opposition national assembly – who all live abroad – for crimes including treason.

The three lawmakers, appointed last week to lead the assembly after it voted to end the interim government of Juan Guaido, have lived abroad since 2019 because of what the opposition says is government harassment.

Assembly President Dinorah Figuera and one of her vice presidents, Auristela Vasquez, live in Spain, while the other vice president, Marianela Fernandez, lives in the United States.

Many leaders from the opposition, which is preparing to hold a primary in June to choose a candidate to face President Nicolas Maduro in an election tentatively scheduled for 2024, are either in exile or barred from politics.

The government has asked Interpol to arrest the legislators, Attorney General Tarek Saab said on state television on Monday morning.

“These three citizens live abroad – two in Spain and one in the United States. We are going to see what the governments of those countries do with our requests,” Saab said.

Saab said the lawmakers have violated the constitution because of their support for foreign governments including the United States, and added that the opposition as a whole had wrongly taken over state assets like oil refiner Citgo Petroleum.

Because of its backing abroad, the opposition is able to control foreign assets including Citgo and $1 billion in gold stored at the Bank of England.

Charges include usurpation of functions, treason and conspiracy, Saab said.

“Intimidation will not make us give up,” Figuera said during a forum held on Zoom, adding the opposition would continue working for unity and focusing on talks with the government meant to find solutions for the country’s crisis. “While they keep pursuing and criminalizing, we will keep going with our agenda.”