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Guaido blasts crackdown; 3 lawmakers seek refuge

Reuters

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who many nations have recognized as the country’s interim ruler, speaks during a news conference in Caracas on Thursday.

AFP-Jiji CARACAS (AFP-Jiji) — Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido accused President Nicolas Maduro’s regime on Thursday of “dismantling” parliament after three lawmakers sought diplomatic refuge while another was arrested for treason.

“If we can talk about a coup d’etat in Venezuela, here it is: the dismantling of the national parliament,” Guaido told a news conference, accusing Maduro’s regime of “state terrorism.”

Guaido, who considers himself the country’s legitimate acting leader, spoke out after opposition lawmakers Richard Blanco, Mariela Magallanes and Americo De Grazia sought refuge in the Argentine and Italian embassies in Caracas.

They are among 10 National Assembly members charged with treason for supporting Guaido’s call for a military revolt on April 30.

The group also includes Edgar Zambrano, vice president of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled parliament, who was seized by intelligence agents on Wednesday night.

Guaido led around 30 members of the armed forces in trying to spark an insurrection to dislodge Maduro 10 days ago, but while it provoked two days of deadly clashes, it quickly fizzled out.

Venezuela was plunged into turmoil in January when Guaido declared himself acting president in a direct challenge to Maduro’s authority.

He has since been recognized by more than 50 countries as he steps up the pressure to oust Maduro, whom he considers illegitimate after 2018 elections widely seen as fraudulent.

Guaido called for a national demonstration on Saturday to reject measures taken by the Supreme Court against opposition lawmakers.

“To make themselves look strong, to give the impression of a control they don’t have, what is the only tool they’ve used for years?” he asked, referring to the Maduro regime.

“Terror, state terrorism,” said Guaido, whose own parliamentary immunity has been stripped by the Supreme Court.

“We’re not going to stop, we’re going to stay in the streets. This is a process that will end with Venezuela’s liberty.”Speech

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