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Venezuela neighbors decry latest arrests ahead of election

The latest arrests targeted two top aides of opposition leader Machado. Caracas has detained several politicians, rights activists and journalists ahead of its July presidential election.

Several countries condemned on Thursday Venezuela’s arrest of two top aides of opposition leader Maria Corina Machado. 

Authorities on Wednesday arrested Henry Alviarez and Dignora Hernandez, the latest in a series of detentions targeting politicians, journalists and rights activists.

Caracas says the arrests come in response to conspiracies and plots against Maduro, who is seeking a third term in office during the country’s coming presidential election in July.

Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Canada condemned Alviarez and Hernandez’s arrests.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also warned against actions that would interfere with the election process.

Who is Machado and why is she being targeted?

Machado heads the party that poses the biggest challenge to President Nicolas Maduro in the July 28 election.

She has already beenbarred from holding public office for 15 years on various charges essentially alleging that she supported US and western sanctions on Venezuela and hurt the country’s economy as a result.

Some opposition figures have urged Machado to let somebody run who is not facing a court ban. However, Machado still says she plans to contend the election. What that means and whether she will be able to is not clear.

Her party faces a Monday deadline to formally announce its presidential candidate. 

“If the regime believes that with these actions they are going to isolate me, let me be clear: My team is Venezuela,” she told reporters Wednesday. She added that her campaign continued organizing across the country and expected “much more than just well wishes” from the international community.

Some seven Machado staffers have now been arrested, with seven others sought by courts, including her right-hand aide Magalli Meda.

Opposition accused of conspiracies?

Since January, Caracas has led a campaign of arrests, targeting those it accuses of involvement in conspiracies against Maduro and other top officials.

Maduro has blamed the opposition for working with the US to undermine his rule.

The Maduro government accused the “far right,” as it calls the opposition, of receiving “support” from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Authorities released in January a video it claimed connects Machado to the plot. Meanwhile, Maduro’s close aid Attorney General Tarek William Saab said at the time that “more arrests will follow.”

Source: Dw

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