Venezuela Arrests Allies of Opposition Candidate on Conspiracy Accusations

CARACAS (Reuters) – Three allies of Venezuelan opposition presidential candidate Maria Corina Machado have been detained on accusations of conspiracy amid growing tensions between the government of President Nicolas Maduro and the political opposition.

Attorney General Tarek Saab said that Guillermo Lopez, Luis Camacaro and Juan Freites were part of a group of at least 11 people who allegedly tried to rob a military weapons arsenal last year ahead of a planned assault on Freddy Bernal, the pro-Maduro governor for the state of Tachira.

Machado’s Vente Venezuela party, to which the three belong, said on its X account that Camacaro and Freites had appeared in court in Caracas on Thursday without private legal representation and without any contact with their families permitted, calling it an “illegal and arbitrary” procedure. It did not mention Lopez.

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Saab said on state television that the three were “criminals.”

The prosecutor’s office has said this week it is pursuing at least five cases of what it says are attempted attacks on Maduro’s socialist government as a deal to hold free and fair elections in return for the U.S. easing sanctions teeters on the brink of collapse.

U.S. officials have stressed that the sanctions relief was dependent on Caracas lifting bans on opponents holding public office, as well as releasing prisoners Washington characterizes as political.

In December, a major prisoner exchange saw the release from Venezuelan jails of 10 Americans and about 20 Venezuelans linked to the opposition.

(Report by Vivian Sequera, Mayela Armas and Deisy Buitrago; Writing by Isabel Woodford; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters.

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