Venezuelan opposition deputy takes refuge with Argentine ambassador

Venezuelan opposition deputy takes refuge with Argentine ambassador

The United States warned the Maduro government of "consequences" if Zambrano is not released, while Guaido said on Twitter that "the regime has kidnapped the first vice president".

"We warn the people of Venezuela and the global community: the regime has kidnapped the first vice-president" of the National Assembly, said Guaido, who heads the body and has been in a power struggle with Maduro since declaring himself acting president in January.

The U.S. government's Venezuelan embassy, now based in Washington, said Zambrano's "arbitrary detention" was "illegal and inexcusable".

The Constituent Assembly, which Nicolas Maduro created to sideline the National Assembly, has said it would suspend the immunity of any lawmakers who backed the uprising.

The US, the European Union and several Latin American states criticized Zambrano's arrest.

"We have a comprehensive set of options tailored to certain conditions, and I'm just going to leave it at that", he said.

Venezuela's pro-Maduro Constituent Assembly agreed on Tuesday to strip Zambrano and six other lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity to allow their future prosecution.

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Maduro and his allies in Russian and China decried the events as an attempted coup.

The same politicians had already been accused by the country's Supreme Court of conspiracy, rebellion and treason and raised the same accusations against three more MPs.

Guaido invoked the Constitution in January to assume an interim presidency, denouncing Maduro as illegitimate after he secured reelection past year in a vote widely viewed as fraudulent. Authorities have not yet tried to arrest him, but Maduro has said he will 'face justice'.

Early yesterday, US President Donald Trump said that he was "discussing the awful abuses by Maduro".

Although the group shares the opposition's goal for a free and fair election in Venezuela as soon as possible, it considers the government of Nicolás Maduro a necessary stakeholder to achieve a peaceful transition.

Edgar Zambrano is deputy to National Assembly speaker Guaido, who organised the revolt by around 30 members of the armed forces, many of whom subsequently fled to the Brazilian embassy.

Trump did not mention Zambrano but said the USA will stand with the people of Venezuela "for however long it takes!"

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