Berliner Tageblatt - Venezuela opposition reports arbitrary detentions ahead of election

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Venezuela opposition reports arbitrary detentions ahead of election
Venezuela opposition reports arbitrary detentions ahead of election / Photo: © AFP

Venezuela opposition reports arbitrary detentions ahead of election

A Venezuelan presidential candidate said Saturday that three opposition activists were detained arbitrarily ahead of July elections in a campaign marred by allegations of political persecution.

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"They have been missing since yesterday... It is an unjust and arbitrary detention," said Edmundo Gonzalez Urrutia of the Democratic Unitary Platform (PUD), the largest opposition coalition in Venezuela.

"It is not known at this moment where and how they are," Gonzalez Urrutia said of the three at a campaign event in Caracas.

The three missing people are Juan Iriarte, coordinator of opposition party Vente, and two activists of the Popular Will party, Luis Lopez and Jean Carlos Rivas.

Vente said on X that they worked with opposition leader Maria Corina Machado and had helped organize campaign activity in Maiquetia, a port city in central Venezuela.

"It is a forced disappearance," Machado, who has been banned from standing in the July 28 election by courts loyal to President Nicolas Maduro, told reporters on Saturday.

The opposition has for months alleged political persecution of its leaders and supporters through arrests, judicial procedures and obstacles to competing in elections.

Venezuela's government has not commented on the three detentions but regularly accuses the opposition of plotting against Maduro, who is looking to secure a third term in power.

At least 13 of Machado's activists have now been detained since January, while six others with arrest warrants have taken refuge in the Argentine embassy.

To date, there are 278 political prisoners in Venezuela, according to a count by NGO Foro Penal.

S.Keller--BTB