Published: Sat, April 06, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Venezuela's Opposition Leader Stripped Of Immunity, Could Face Prosecution

Venezuela's Opposition Leader Stripped Of Immunity, Could Face Prosecution

Venezuelan lawmakers loyal to President Nicolas Maduro have stripped opposition leader Juan Guaido's immunity and authorised the high court to criminally prosecute him for proclaiming himself the country's ruler. Venezuela has since seen a political divide between supporters of Guaido and embattled President Nicolas Maduro, who was elected to power following elections.

He declared himself Venezuela's interim president in January, and vowed to overthrow Mr Maduro.

Colombia on Tuesday rejected a Russian warning against foreign military intervention in Venezuela and said it supported a peaceful transition to democracy in the neighboring South American country.

The Constituent Assembly's decree is necessary for the Supreme Court to move ahead with a trial of Mr. Guaido because as a legislator he has parliamentary immunity that makes it more hard for him to be tried than the average citizen.

The move by the government-backed National Constituent Assembly on Tuesday paves the way for Guaido's prosecution, and possibly his arrest.

However, the vote against Guaido was unanimous, and Constituent Assembly president and socialist party boss Diosdado Cabello accused the opposition of naively inviting a foreign invasion and of inciting a civil war. The action must be approved by the National Assembly - steps that weren't taken in Guaido's case.

However, on February 22, Guaido traveled to the Colombian border city of Cucuta, which hosts a humanitarian aid distribution center.

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The country's rival president labelled the move a "cowardly" attempt to stifle a popular uprising against President Maduro's "miserable and murderous" regime.

Officials jailed his chief of staff, Roberto Marrero, accused of involvement in a "terrorist" scheme to overthrow the government.

Countries like Japan, Germany, France and United Kingdom have also voiced their support for Guaido, while Russia, China and Turkey (amongst others) have supported Maduro, slamming global interference in the Latin American nation.

Maduro has said Guaido should "face justice" and calls him a coup-mongering puppet for the United States - but he has stopped short of calling for his arrest. "The usurpers don't want to test the resolution of the worldwide community", Guaido added.

Pence also said the Trump administration was considering new measures to punish Cuba, which has close ties with Maduro.

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