The birth of a new dictatorship? Venezuelan opposition leader taken from his home by authorities

Venezuela has faced almost daily protests over recent months

Venezuela has faced almost daily protests over recent months

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The leader of Venezuela's opposition party has been taken from his home by authorities, in what many will see as a further sign of the country's descent towards dictatorship.

The removal of Leopoldo Lopez was confirmed by his wife, according to Associated Press, a day after landmark elections paved the way for President Nicolas Maduro to secure a raft of new powers.

Human rights group Amnistia says Lopez, who was living under house arrest, was taken by members of the Venezuelan intelligence service, known as SEBIN.

Antonio Ledezma, the Mayor of Caracas, was also reportedly taken from his home. A tweet has appeared on Ledezma's Twitter page, apparently written by a member of his family, which reads: "Under the force of punches and pushing Antonio was taken from our house. We make ourselves responsible to the regime for his life and integrity."

A video is displayed below the message, showing a man being dragged away from a property while a woman shouts "dictatorship" at his captors.

 

Mitzy. Por la fuerza a golpes y empujones se llevan a Antonio de nuestra casa. Hacemos responsable al régimen por su vida e integridad!!! pic.twitter.com/69xZ7IqZk0

— Antonio Ledezma (@alcaldeledezma) August 1, 2017

 

Venezuela has been engulfed in protests over recent months, centring on the regime of hard-line leftist leader Nicolas Maduro. The protests reached a new pitch yesterday (July 31) after Maduro claimed victory in elections for a new 'Constituent Assembly'.

The victory, which could enable Maduro to rewrite the country's constitution, was secured by an overwhelming majority, according to Maduro loyalist. However opponents claim the result was a sham as turnout was miniscule.

Maduro was elected leader following the death of his mentor Hugo Chavez in 2013 but has faced almost constant demonstrations as the country's economy has declined, largely due to the fall in the global oil price.

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has regularly praised Venezuela in the past, suggesting the country is a model for the rest of the world to follow, and even appeared on a phone-in show presented by Maduro.

However much of Corbyn's praise focused on Chavez and he has said little about Venezuela over recent months.