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Venezuelan lawmaker accused of rebellion flees to Colombia

VENEZUELA CRISIS | 17 de junio de 2019

Caracas, Jun 17 (efe-epa).- Opposition lawmaker Richard Blanco, accused by the Venezuelan justice system of being involved in the failed military rebellion against the Nicolas Maduro government last April 30, fled this Monday to Colombia after almost 40 days of refuge at the Argentine Embassy in Caracas.

"No one will silence me...so I decided to cross the border to Colombia and later I will ask them to help us. Alone we can do nothing and my commitment is to Venezuela," the legislator said on Twitter, where he shared a photo of himself at an illegal border crossing in Tachira state.

Blanco is one of the 14 Venezuelan lawmakers that the prosecution links to the April rebellion that was quashed by the Maduro government without any loss of life.

What happened was that National Assembly Speaker Juan Guaido and opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez had appeared outside a military base in Caracas with a group of soldiers calling for an end of all support for Maduro, in office since 2013.

Later there were protests and clashes between the opposition and state security forces that went on until May 1, Labor Day.

According to different sources, five people died, almost 100 were wounded and more than 200 arrests were made during the demonstrations.

At the beginning of May the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), which the opposition says is a pawn of Maduro, asked the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), a legislative body made up solely of Chavistas and not recognized by large part of the international community, to deprive of jurisdiction the 14 legislators accused of rebellion.

Upon hearing that, Blanco sought refuge in the Argentine Embassy in Caracas last May 9, which he entered as a "guest."

How he fooled police so he could get away and finally enter Colombia remains unknown.

Venezuela has been going through a time of political tension since last January when Maduro was sworn in for a new term in office that was not accepted by the opposition. In response, Guaido proclaimed himself interim president, a move backed by more than 50 nations headed by the United States.

Meanwhile the country, which has the largest proven oil reserves on the planet, is going through the worst economic crisis in its modern history, which has led to the exodus of more than 4 million people, according to figures of the United Nations and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

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