The Venezuelan regime on Tuesday lashed out at its enemies, charging seven opposition lawmakers with treason and rebellion, a week after leader Nicolas Maduro survived a brief military uprising. But, keeping to form, authorities stopped short of going after Maduro’s immediate rival: interim President Juan Guaido.
The move came as the International Contact Group — a European Union-backed organization — announced that it would continue to push for “credible” and “transparent” negotiations to extricate Venezuela from a deep political and humanitarian crisis. Speaking after a two-day meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica, the ICG said it would ask Maduro to “free political prisoners” and allow new leadership of government institutions as a precursor to talks.
Many, including Guaido, are wary of negotiations after attempts in 2014 and 2017 bought Maduro time and left the opposition divided.
The day began clouded by uncertainty as Maduro’s security forces barred the press from covering the weekly session of the opposition-controlled National Assembly. In an attempt to complete the blackout, websites that stream the session, including YouTube, were taken offline in Venezuela, the U.K.-based internet monitoring organization, Netblocks, reported. It’s a tactic that has become increasingly prevalent as Maduro tries to silence and undermine Guaido.
While congress was meeting, the Maduro-controlled Supreme Court called an emergency session to hit seven opposition lawmakers with charges including treason, conspiracy and rebellion linked to last week’s uprising. The court also ordered the National Constituent Assembly — a super-body also controlled by Maduro loyalists — to take up the issue.
Guaido has been trying to oust Maduro since Jan. 23, when he said he was constitutionally bound to assume the presidency because Maduro had stolen last year’s election.