Mexico gives ‘protection’ to lawmaker in Caracas
May 15 2019 11:49 PM
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro delivers a speech
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro delivers a speech to the troops during the march of loyalty in Vargas, Venezuela.

AFP/Mexico City

The Mexican government said its embassy in Venezuela has taken in opposition lawmaker Franco Manuel Casella to provide him “protection and safety,” even as Mexico City insists it is not meddling in the Venezuelan crisis.
“In line with its diplomatic tradition, the government of Mexico received National Assembly deputy Franco Manuel Casella at its diplomatic residence in Caracas to provide him protection and safety,” the Mexican foreign ministry said in a statement.
The foreign ministry added that Mexico “reiterates its commitment to respect, protect and promote the human rights of all people, regardless of their political affinity.”
The Mexican government reiterated the position of non-intervention in the Venezuelan conflict that the government of leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has maintained since he took office on December 1.
“The government reaffirms its position of non-intervention, its openness to dialogue and its firm commitment to collaborate in finding a democratic, peaceful solution through dialogue,” the statement read.
Unlike other large Latin American countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, Mexico still recognises the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and not that of opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido.
Guaido has challenged Maduro’s authority since January, considering his re-election as illegitimate.
Last week, the Mexican government said it was concerned about the arrest of Venezuelan National Assembly deputy Edgar Zambrano for his involvement in a failed military uprising against Maduro last month.
The pro-government Constituent Assembly, a separate body that enjoys plenipotentiary powers, stripped five opposition lawmakers of their immunity on Tuesday for their participation in the uprising, bringing the total number to 14 so far.
Three other lawmakers involved in the uprising have taken shelter at diplomatic offices and another has fled to Colombia.
Meanwhile, the Brazilian government’s top security adviser said Venezuela’s armed forces will either depose Maduro and lead a transition to democratic rule or face divisions that risk a civil war.
Retired general Augusto Heleno, national security adviser to President Jair Bolsonaro, said the situation in Venezuela was unpredictable after opposition leader Juan Guaido unsuccessfully called on the military to change sides last month.
Only a handful of soldiers headed Guaido’s call to back the opposition on April 30 and since then Maduro’s government has launched a crackdown on opposition legislators allegedly linked to the attempt.
Despite US sanctions, the upper echelons of Venezuela’s military have largely ignored entreaties from the opposition and Washington to turn against Maduro and just over 1,000 troops have defected, mostly to Colombia and Brazil.
“The future of Venezuela will be decided by the armed forces: either they stay in power with the same government or they remove Maduro,” Heleno said in an interview. “We don’t know how the military will act.
Either they will oust Maduro, take power and set in motion a return to democracy, or they could split between Guaido and Maduro, which is the riskier scenario that could set off a civil war,” he said.

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