Venezuela Issues Arrest Warrants for Opposition Staffers for Treason

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(Reuters, 6.Dec.2023) — Venezuela’s attorney general on Wednesday said there are arrest warrants for three people involved in the campaign of opposition presidential nominee Maria Corina Machado, for crimes including treason.

A lawyer for Machado’s Vente Venezuela party said the three people have always acted correctly.

The warrants for Henry Alviarez, Claudia Macero and Pedro Urruchurtu are for crimes including treason, conspiracy and money laundering, Attorney General Tarek Saab said on state television.

The three staffers, along with Roberto Abdul, a member of the commission who planned the primary where Machado was elected the opposition’s candidate, took part in “destabilizing and conspiratorial actions” against a recent referendum vote over a territorial dispute with Guyana, Saab said.

Voters in the referendum, backed by the government of President Nicolas Maduro, rejected an international court’s jurisdiction over the long-running dispute and supported the creation of a new Venezuelan state in the Esequibo region, much to the chagrin of Guyana, which has questioned the vote’s legitimacy.

The four people and allies abroad used “financing from money laundering by international organizations and foreign companies like Exxon Mobil” for their activities, Saab said, without providing more details.

Exxon operates its largest foreign oil project offshore of Guyana. CEO Darren Woods said earlier on Wednesday he expects the dispute to be resolved within a couple of years through international arbitration.

Exxon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saab’s allegations. Machado, who held a press conference nearly simultaneously to Saab, said the authorities “believe that with this they will create fear, imbalance, demoralization or demobilization, and it’s just the opposite.”

The three staffers were present at her event, she added, and have the full support of her party. The party’s lawyer, Perkins Rocha, said afterward in comments shared on social media there has been no official notification of the warrants.

“We are waiting for them to notify us, we want to know what it’s about,” Rocha said.

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Reporting by Vivian Sequera in Bogota and Sabrina Valle in Houston, additonal reportign by Deisy Buitrago in Caracas and Kiana Wilburg in Georgetown Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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