The Latest: 2 Venezuelan judges shelter in Chilean residence

The Latest: 2 Venezuelan judges shelter in Chilean residence

11 photos
Save Story
Leer en español

Estimated read time: 13-14 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on the political situation in Venezuela (all times local):

10:10 p.m.

Two judges appointed by Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly have taken refuge in the residence of the Chilean ambassador in Caracas.

Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz tweeted Tuesday that Beatriz Ruiz and Jose Fernando Nunez arrived "in search of protection" and said they have been offered asylum if they want it.

Ruiz and Nunez were among 33 judges sworn in on July 21 by the National Assembly in defiance of Venezuela's government-stacked Supreme Court. The country's highest court quickly declared the appointments unconstitutional and said the judges would be illegally usurping power and betraying the nation if they tried to take their new posts.

The pair joins another Venezuelan judge who took refuge in the Chilean residence in Caracas. At least three judges appointed by the National Assembly have been detained.


8:50 p.m.

The White House is condemning what it calls "the Maduro dictatorship" over the arrests of two top opposition leaders in Venezuela before dawn Tuesday.

Opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma had been under house arrest but security force officers hustled them off to a military prison.

In a statement, the White House calls them political prisoners and says they are "being held illegally by the regime" led by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The statement adds: "The United States holds Maduro — who publicly announced just hours earlier that he would move against his political opposition — personally responsible for the health and safety of Mr. Lopez, Mr. Ledezma, and any others seized."

It calls for Venezuela's government to immediately free all political prisoners.


6:15 p.m.

Venezuela's vice president says the newly elected constituent assembly that could dramatically reshape the nation's government will be convening "within hours."

In remarks aired on Venezuela's state television Tuesday, Tareck El Aissami said that results from Sunday's election have been reviewed and the 545 assembly members will soon take the reins of the nation's government. He didn't give a specific time, though.

President Nicolas Maduro had stated previously that the constituent assembly would take power within 72 hours, but he also has given no precise date.

The assembly is being granted vast powers to revamp Venezuela's government. Maduro and high-profile members of the assembly are promising to target the opposition-controlled legislature and the office of the chief prosecutor, which has become one of the president's most outspoken critics.


6 p.m.

A member of Venezuela's National Electoral Council is voicing grave doubts about the accuracy of the official vote count in Sunday's election for an all-powerful constituent assembly that will rewrite the country's constitution.

Luis Emilio Rondon is the only one of the five council members who has sided with the opposition in the past. He says measures used in previous elections to ensure an accurate vote count were not employed Sunday.

The council has said more than 8 million Venezuelans voted — a figure far higher than estimates by President Nicolas Maduro's opposition and by an independent exit poll.

Rondon says in a statement released Tuesday that the electoral council ordered far fewer election audits than in previous votes. He says the body also did not use permanent ink for marking voters' fingers, a method to ensure no one votes twice.

The final results showing who won seats as delegates to the assembly have still not been published.


5:50 p.m.

U.S. Sen. Sen. Marco Rubio is warning Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that he is endangering his job security by cracking down on political opponents.

The Florida Republican says in a speech taped in Spanish and aired in the South American nation that Maduro's followers are already plotting to turn against him after a Sunday vote that created a constitutional assembly which will give the socialist leader increased powers.

Maduro has drawn widespread international criticism over the election and for his threat to use the new assembly to punish his foes.

In the speech, Rubio says: "To Nicolas Maduro, who I am sure is watching or will watch this show, the current path won't end well for you."

Rubio's office noted Maduro's government detained opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and another Venezuela opposition figure early Tuesday. In a printed statement, Rubio said the detention of Lopez was "a direct challenge to President Trump," because Lopez had spoken to Vice President Mike Pence by phone Friday.


5:35 p.m.

The secretary general of the Organization of American States is condemning the new jailing of Venezuelan opposition leaders Antonio Ledezma and Leopoldo Lopez, calling the move "completely harmful to the human rights of both leaders and their families."

OAS chief Luis Almagro said in a statement that 16 people were killed in Venezuela on Sunday during protests against a constituent assembly that is to rewrite the troubled country's constitution. He called the election of the assembly's members "fraudulent" and its installation "illegitimate."

In Almargo's words: "The Venezuelan regime continues to escalate its repression."

Lopez was detained after anti-government protests and sentenced to more than a decade in prison. He was released last month to serve the rest of his term under house arrest. Ledezma, a former Caracas mayor, was also detained in 2015 and had been under house arrest.


5:05 p.m.

The U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson says Washington is very troubled by developments in Venezuela, where socialist President Nicolas Maduro has just pushed through the divisive election of a constituent assembly that will rewrite the country's constitution.

Maduro has said he will use the assembly to punish his political opponents, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that the U.S. fears the violence could worsen in Venezuela.

In Tillerson's words: "We are evaluating all of our policy options as to what can we do to create a change of conditions where either Maduro decides he doesn't have a future, and wants to leave of his own accord, or we can return the government processes back to their constitution."


3:15 p.m.

The United States says it is holding Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro "personally responsible" for the health and safety of two opposition leaders who were taken by authorities from the homes where they were under house arrest.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the detentions of Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma followed the Maduro government's "outrageous seizure of power through a sham election" over the weekend.

Sanders says Lopez and Ledezma were being "unjustly" held by the Venezuelan government and that Maduro is responsible for their well-being.

Lopez was detained after anti-government protests and sentenced to more than a decade in prison. He was released last month to serve the rest of his term under house arrest. Ledezma, a former Caracas mayor, was also detained in 2015 and has been under house arrest.


3:05 p.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is urging all Venezuelans to make all possible efforts to lower tensions, prevent further violence and find avenues for political dialogue.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Tuesday Guterres' message is directed particularly to "those representing powers of the state."

He said the secretary-general believes political negotiations between Venezuela's government and opposition are urgently needed and is convinced "the only way forward is a political solution."

Dujarric said Guterres "has taken note" of the judicial system's decision to revoke the house arrest of two opposition leaders, sending them back to prison.

When pressed for the U.N. chief's reaction, Dujarric said "his overall message is of concern for the increase in political tensions and the country moving away from a path to finding a peaceful solution."

Opposition figures Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma were taken from their homes in the middle of the night. Venezuela's Supreme Court said they had violated the terms of their house arrest.


2:05 p.m.

Supporters of Leopoldo Lopez have a released a video he taped a week before state security agents whisked him back to a military prison. It shows the opposition leader calling on Venezuelans to be firm in resisting President Nicolas Maduro.

He also announces that his wife is pregnant. The 6-minute long video shared Tuesday shows Lopez rubbing his wife's belly and saying he has "one more reason to fight for Venezuela." He calls the pregnancy "the best news I've received in the last 3 1/2 years" — a reference to the time he spent behind bars.

Lopez was released from the Ramo Verde prison in June and granted house arrest to serve out the remainder of his 13-year sentence for inciting violence at opposition rallies. The couple has at times been allowed conjugal visits.

Lopez says he recorded the video knowing he might be imprisoned again — as he was early Thursday.


1:35 p.m.

Three legislators in Venezuela say they are breaking with the pro-government Great Patriotic Pole party and forming a new faction in opposition to President Nicolas Maduro's rewrite of the nation's constitution.

Lawmaker Eustoquio Contreras told legislators at the opposition-controlled National Assembly Tuesday that the nation is in crisis and headed toward a civil war that must be avoided.

The Great Patriotic Pole is a coalition of 17 parties formed in 2012 to support the re-election of the late President Hugo Chavez, who bequeathed power to Maduro.

The legislators say their new faction will be called the "Parliamentary Socialist Bloc."

The dissentions are among the highest-profile to emerge recently from among pro-government leaders.


11:30 a.m.

Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis is rejecting the idea of EU sanctions against Venezuela, saying they could hurt the population.

He said Tuesday that Spain instead favors individual measures such as travel restrictions against those responsible for the situation.

Dastis said there is "great concern over the arrests of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma and opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

Dastis ruled out recalling the Spanish ambassador, saying he was more effective in Venezuela helping Spaniards living there.

The U.S. government on Monday imposed sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro over Sunday's disputed election of a pro-government assembly with almost unlimited political powers.


11:20 a.m.

An attorney for former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma is denying the Venezuelan Supreme Court's assertion that he had faced legal restrictions on his ability to speak with the media while under house arrest.

Omar Estacio tells news outlet VivoPlay that the high court's claims that Ledezma violated the terms of his house arrest by talking to the press and allegedly being part of an "escape plan" are false.

State security agents removed Ledezma and opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez from his their homes early Tuesday. The court says they violated terms of their house arrest.

Ledezma was detained in 2015 and had been serving his sentence from home.

Both men had recently posted videos online denouncing President Nicolas Maduro's election for a special assembly given essentially unlimited powers and tasked with rewriting the constitution.


11:15 a.m.

The United Nations' human rights chief says he is "deeply concerned" by the re-arrest of two leading Venezuelan opposition figures and is calling for the release of all people held for exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein urged Venezuelan authorities in a statement released in Geneva Tuesday "not to make an already extremely volatile situation even worse through the use of excessive force."

Zeid also called for "prompt, effective and independent" investigations into 10 deaths in clashes between protesters and police over the weekend. He appealed to all sides to refrain from violence.

Opposition figures Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma, were taken from their homes in the middle of the night. Venezuela's Supreme Court said they had violated the terms of their house arrest.


10:45 a.m.

The U.S. State Department says it's "deeply concerned with the Venezuelan government's decision to re-arrest opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma."

It says the midnight detentions are further evidence that President Nicolas Maduro "is an authoritarian ruler who is not willing to respect fundamental human rights."

Venezuela's Supreme Court says the two were detained early Tuesday because they violated terms of their house arrest. Both had been held for allegedly stirring up violence in earlier protests.

Washington on Monday added Maduro to a steadily growing list of high-ranking Venezuelan officials targeted by financial sanctions. So far, the Trump administration has not delivered on threats to sanction Venezuela's oil industry, which could undermine Maduro's government but raise U.S. gas prices and deepen Venezuela's humanitarian crisis.

The moves follow Sunday's election of a pro-government assembly with almost absolute power to reshape the country's political system.


10:15 a.m.

Venezuela's Supreme Court says two leading opposition figures have been jailed because they violated the terms of their house arrest.

The nation's highest court says Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma were removed from their homes early Tuesday after "official intelligence sources" determined there was a "escape plan" involving both men.

The court added that Lopez isn't permitted to engage in any sort of political activism and former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma is prohibited from speaking to media outlets.

Lopez was detained three years ago after protests against Maduro's government and sentenced to more than a decade in prison. He was released last month to serve out his term on house arrest.

The president of Venezuela's opposition-dominated legislature says the allegations are "ridiculous" and the jailings "absolutely arbitrary."


9 a.m.

An attorney says that Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has been returned to the military prison from which he had been recently released.

Lopez's attorney Juan Carlos Gutierrez tells the Exitos radio station that the 46-year-old Lopez was pulled from his home and was taken to the Ramo Verde prison at about 3 a.m.

He says the government's decision to return Lopez to prison is "completely arbitrary" and says Lopez had obeyed the conditions imposed on his house arrest.

Lopez had been released from Ramo Verde on July 8 after serving three years of a 13-year sentence for inciting violence at opposition rallies. Many human rights groups considered him a political prisoner.

It's not clear if former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma also was taken to prison. Allies posted video online of him being taken from his home by security agents.


4:05 a.m.

Allies of two Venezuelan opposition leaders say Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma have been taken by authorities from the homes where they were under house arrest.

Video posted on the Twitter account of Lopez's wife early Tuesday shows a man being taken away from a Caracas home by state security agents. Wife Lilian Tintori says in a tweet that "they've just taken Leopoldo from the house. We don't know where he is."

Lopez was detained three years after protests against President Nicolas Maduro's government and sentenced to more than a decade in prison on charges that include inciting protesters to violence. He was released last month to serve the rest of his term under house arrest. Ledezma, a former Caracas mayor, was also detained in 2015 and has been under house arrest.


12 a.m.

President Nicolas Maduro brushed off new U.S. sanctions on him and condemnation at home and abroad of the newly chosen constitutional assembly, saying the vote has given him a popular mandate to radically overhaul Venezuela's political system.

Maduro said Monday evening he had no intention of deviating from his plans to rewrite the constitution and go after a string of enemies, from independent Venezuelan news channels to gunmen he claimed were sent by neighboring Colombia to disrupt the vote as part of an international conspiracy led by the man he calls "Emperor Donald Trump."

"They don't intimidate me. The threats and sanctions of the empire don't intimidate me for a moment," Maduro said on national television. "I don't listen to orders from the empire, not now or ever ... Bring on more sanctions, Donald Trump."

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Most recent World stories

Related topics

The Associated Press


    Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast