4 opposition lawmakers stripped of immunity in Venezuela
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Legislators loyal to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Monday stripped immunity from four opposition lawmakers accused of treason amid a struggle for control of the crisis-stricken nation.
The move brings to 18 the number of opposition politicians Maduro’s government has threatened with criminal prosecution so far this year.
Socialist party boss Diosdado Cabello oversaw the unanimous vote as head of the National Constituent Assembly, the legislative body stacked with Maduro’s allies that rivals the opposition-controlled National Assembly. Its members cheered and waved Venezuelan flags overhead throughout the afternoon session.
“Justice is slow, but it gets to where it has to go,” said Cabello, justifying the move depriving lawmakers of immunity from prosecution by saying they had been caught “flagrantly” in the act of criminal activity.
A political battle for control of Venezuela between Maduro’s socialist government and opposition leader Juan Guaidó has been playing out since January when Guaidó launched a campaign with backing from the United States and more than 50 other nations to oust Maduro.
The four lawmakers singled out Monday were José Guerra, Rafael Guzmán, Tomás Guanipa and Juan Pablo García Canales.
Others already facing criminal prosecution have sought refuge in foreign embassies or fled the country, fearing for their safety.