At least two National Assembly deputies have been forced to seek refuge in foreign embassies today, following the arrest of one of their counterparts last night.
Deputy Americo De Grazia announced today that he was taking refuge inside the Italian embassy in Caracas, while deputy Richard Blanco was taken in by the Argentinian embassy.
The moves by the two deputies follow last night’s arrest of
National Assembly vice president Edgar Zambrano in Caracas. Officers with the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (National Bolivarian Intelligence Service,SEBIN) towed away the vehicle in which Zambrano was riding when he refused to exit. Zambrano’s arrest came after the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (Supreme Tribunal of Justice, TSJ) announced that it would prosecute nine legislators for treason and other crimes over their alleged involvement in the events of April 30.
De Grazia announced his decision to take refuge in the Italian embassy with a pair of tweets:
I will not give the #NarcoDictatorship the pleasure of showing me off like a trophy and using me as a hostage in exchange for condoning their crimes against humanity, [their] human rights violations, corruption, drug trafficking and terrorism. I’m still fighting #VenezuelaIsWorthIt. And I thank ITALY for taking me in.
With this move I’m not trying to be a hero nor a martyr. I only want to be USEFUL to my country. My family and my beloved mother and my children, to give them peace [sic]. I know about all of the limitations now imposed on me with this decision which I was forced to take. I REITERATE my commitment to Venezuela.
De Grazia and Blanco were both accused on Tuesday by the TSJ of being traitors for their alleged role in the events of April 30, and it is likely that their arrests were imminent.
UN, Contact Group Ask for Zambrano’s Release
The Officer of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the United Nations issued a statement today calling for the “immediate release” of Edgar Zambrano, following his arrest last night.
Below, the organization’s statement:
The International Contact Group on Venezuela, which is made up of European nations, also called on the Maduro regime to release Zambrano “immediately and unconditionally”.
The Group released a statement saying that it “condemned” the “arbitrary” decision by the TSJ to persecute National Assembly deputies, which it called “political repression”.
Guaido Speaks on Arrests, Calls for Protests
Speaking during a press conference today, Juan Guaido taunted the Maduro regime by questioning its decision to arrest Zambrano rather than him. Guaido said:
I was in charge of Operation Liberty, and I still am. Why, then, did they kidnap Edgar Zambrano?
Guaido also called on Venezuelans to take to the streets of the country on Saturday starting at 10:00 AM to continue to protest against the Maduro government.
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