Venezuela returns opposition leader to house arrest
Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has been returned to house arrest from a four-day detention amid efforts to restore calm to the country which is reeling from weeks of riots.
“They just moved Leopoldo home,” his wife Lilian Tintori wrote on Twitter of the Saturday development.
The 46-year-old Lopez was first arrested in 2014 and released to house arrest last month along with another opposition leader Antonio Ledezma who was also put under house arrest on Friday.
Authorities say they ordered the house arrests because the two men had planned to either hide inside the country or flee abroad.
Their return to their families came a day after a nationwide vote which President Nicolas Maduro had called on the formation of a Constituent Assembly, tasked with rewriting the country’s constitution.
The new constitution, Madura says, will lift the country out of its economic misery, brought on chiefly by the fall in oil revenues, which Venezuela most heavily relies on.
The voting process, however, featured a US-backed opposition boycott, and riots which the government says are directed from outside.
Upon the formation, the new assembly fired Attorney General Luisa Ortega who has backed the rioters and barred her from leaving the country.
Also on Saturday, the Mercosur group of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay which have pro-Western governments suspended Venezuela from its full membership. They alleged that the situation inside Venezuela lagged far behind democratic standards as is required by the South American economic bloc.
At least 125 people have died over the past four months in Venezuela during riots and violent demonstrations against the government.
Maduro on Friday said his country was facing an “armed insurgency,” and criticized the prosecutor’s office for failure to control the opposition-led rallies.