BRUSSELS – European Union institutions joined on Tuesday a growing chorus of condemnation over recent political developments Venezuela, including the late-night arrests of two opposition lawmakers, which occurred after a controversial state bid to appoint an assembly charged with altering the constitution.
Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma were taken from their houses in the middle of the night by Venezuelan intelligence officers just days after the government of President Nicolas Maduro staged an election to appoint members to a new National Constituent Assembly in a vote denounced by critics and international organizations.
“I condemn strongly the constant violation of human rights in Venezuela, unjustified arrests,” of Ledezma and Lopez, European Parliament president Antonio Tajani said on his official Twitter account.
Lopez, who had been under house arrested before being sequestered by intelligence forces – known as Sebin – had spoken with Tajani the night before, prompting the Italian chief of the EU’s legislative body to release a statement condemning Sunday’s Constituent Assembly election as undemocratic.
Earlier, Deputy Chief Spokeswoman of the European Commission Mina Andreeva mirrored the Parliament’s stance and said the arrest of Lopez was a step in the wrong direction.
The detention of such prominent opposition politicians was the latest in a series of acts marking the degradation of political stability in the South American nation.
Maduro critics fear that his government is pushing to become authoritarian, but ministers in the administration and the president himself have decried an attempted coup d’état.
Dozens of people have died in street violence since massive anti-government demonstrations began to occur daily several months ago.