CARACAS – Dozens of residents of the capital municipality of El Hatillo took to the streets on Thursday to protest the removal of Mayor David Smolansky after the Venezuelan Supreme Court sentenced him to 15 months in prison and barred him from politics.
Residents blocked at least two streets and paraded with banners reading “We are all Smolansky,” voicing their support for the opposition politician and describing the Supreme Court’s ruling as a “coup d’etat.”
Smolansky called for the demonstrations Wednesday night after he learned of the verdict.
“The call is that tomorrow we go out at 7 am, go out to all the streets and municipalities to protest and to defend El Hatillo,” the mayor said in a brief video message.
The now-fugitive Smolansky is the fifth opposition mayor in two weeks to be sanctioned by the Supreme Court for allowing protestors to erect barricades in their municipalities as part of demonstrations against the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuela’s Supreme Court has imposed similar sentences on a dozen opposition mayors in all over the last three years.
Authorities have no information about the whereabouts of Smolansky, who has been barred from leaving the country.