No Immunity for Venezuelan Opposition Leader

Saul Bowman
April 6, 2019

The Federation Council, the Russian equivalent of a senate, wrote a letter to Colombian Congress in which it accused the country's government and other allies of the United States of trying to "provoke a civil war" and a possible "military intervention in this state" whose disputed President, Nicolas Maduro, is an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Shortly after it's first meeting in August 2017, it declared itself the supreme governing body of Venezuela and banned the opposition-led National Assembly.

Two days after the Venezuelan Supreme Court annulled his election, Guaidó declared himself the country's "interim president".

"We must unite now more than ever", said Guaido at a Caracas university earlier Monday.

Guaido dismissed the Maduro-stacked high court and Constituent Assembly as illegitimate and continued his calls for Maduro to step down.

Mr. Guaido's worldwide backers, chiefly the Trump administration, have warned Venezuelan authorities not to touch him and threatened ever harsher sanctions against the Maduro administration to further cut it off from foreign financing.

"Let's give justice time, justice has its time, its moments, its courts", Diosdado Cabello, president of the Constituent Assembly, said after the vote.

Venezuela's chief prosecutor's office has opened an investigation of Guaido, into alleged links to "incidents of violence" in January, but has not ordered his detention or officially charged him with any crime.

Tuesday night's vote was unanimous. On January 5 Guaido was elected the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, which all other government branches have been refusing to recognize since 2016.

The Constituent Assembly was created by Maduro in 2017 in a bid to usurp power from the National Assembly.

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. Last Thursday, the Maduro government announced that it had barred Guaido from holding public office for 15 years for illegally receiving funds from domestic and overseas sources. "This seems like an attempt to test the waters, weighing how the global community would react to detaining Guaido, " Ramsey said.

The March touchdown near Caracas of two Russian air force planes carrying some 100 Russian special forces and cyber-security personnel has raised global concerns about Moscow's backing for Maduro.

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