Venezuela: Fears for Opposition Leader’s Safety After Regime Strips Him of Immunity

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko

Authorities in Venezuela have stripped opposition leader Juan Guaidó of his immunity from prosecution, paving the way for his arrest and subsequent imprisonment at the hands of the country’s socialist regime.

On Tuesday, Diosdado Cabello, the leader of the illegitimate “national constituent assembly” made up entirely of Maduro loyalists, announced that socialist lawmakers had “unanimously authorized” the removal of Guaidó’s immunity that he is guaranteed as President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, a democratically elected lawmaking body.

The move now allows the regime to prosecute Guaido on charges of supposedly violating the Venezuelan constitution after he was sworn in as the country’s interim president back in January. Since his appointment, which was legal under the terms of Hugo Chávez’s 1999 constitution, his legitimacy been recognized by the U.S. and other Western democracies, all of whom regard Maduro as a dictator.

However, the decision also him liable to other potential charges, which include breaching a ban on leaving the country after he crossed the border into Colombia last month to meet with regional leaders to discuss ways the Maduro regime can be removed from power. He has also led widespread demonstrations against the regime, as the country collapses under the pressure of the region’s most pressing economic and humanitarian crisis.

Last week, regime official Elvis Amoroso also announced that Guaidó would be barred from holding public office for 15 years, the maximum punishment allowable by law, over supposedly inconsistent financial transactions and illegally accepting gifts from foreign governments.

Having already imposed a range of sanctions against the Maduro regime, the Trump administration has repeatedly threatened them with an additional response should Guaidó be arrested. Marco Rubio, who is understood to be a key advisor to Trump on such matters, wrote on Twitter that any moves against him should be considered a “coup d’état.”

“Any military or security official that follows orders to violate legislative immunity of [Juan Guaidó] on basis of a decision by this illegitimate congress is violating the constitution they swore to uphold,” he said. “Any effort to abduct [him] should be considered a coup d’etat by every nation that has recognized him as the legitimate Interim President of Venezuela. And anyone who cooperates with this should be treated as a coup plotter & dealt with accordingly.”

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