Key Venezuela opposition leaders detained

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Caracas, Aug 1 (IANS) Two key Venezuelan opposition leaders, Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma, were detained from their homes on Tuesday, officials said.

“They just took Leopoldo from the house. We do not know where he is or where he is being taken. (President Nicolas) Maduro is responsible if something happens to him,” Lopez’s wife Lilian Tintori tweeted early Tuesday morning.

Lopez and Ledezma were both under house arrest, reports CNN.

Lopez, a descendent of South American liberator Simon Bolívar and Venezuela’s first President Cristobal Mendoza, was released from military prison to house arrest in July.

Tintori also posted video that she says shows her husband being taken away in a car marked “SEBIN”, an abbreviation for the Venezuelan intelligence service.

Ledezma, the former mayor of Caracas, was also taken from his home by SEBIN, according to tweets from his wife and children, CNN reported.

His daughter, Oriette Ledezma, denounced the move, saying in a video statement: “He was taken from his home today, early this morning. He was in pajamas. We don’t know where he was taken. A group of men came with their faces concealed and in camouflage and they took him. They have kidnapped him once again. We hold the regime responsible for his life and physical integrity.”

Ledezma, known throughout Venezuela for his vocal opposition to the ruling dispensation, was elected to office in 2009. The same year, he staged a hunger strike to protest the political tactics of then-Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The two men’s detention comes after the violent constitutional assembly election on Sunday for the creation of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), a body that President Maduro created to rewrite the nation’s constitution.

The voting followed weeks of violent street protests in which over 125 persons have been killed, CNN reported.

On Monday, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Maduro following the vote.

Beginning Monday, all of the Venezuelan’s President’s assets that were subject to US jurisdiction were frozen. All US citizens are also barred from dealing with him.

–IANS

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