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Europe condemns Venezuela's ‘brutal repression' and seclusion grows in regime

AP/Fernando Llano

Women mourn during an homage to Juan Pablo Pernalete in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday. European Parliment and Canada call for Venezuelan elections. Opposition plans new protests to honor those killed this month

Petroleumworld 04 28 2017

Venezuela's isolation grew Thursday as the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the “brutal repression” of protesters by state security forces, saying more than 20 people had been killed in demonstrations over the past month.

“Venezuela's government must ensure the full restoration of the democratic order and immediately release all political prisoners,” the Parliament said in a statement posted on its website. Lawmakers called on the government to establish an electoral calendar that would allow “free and transparent electoral processes and to stop side-lining opposition leaders by depriving them of their political rights.”

The call came just a day after Venezuela's foreign minister, Delcy Rodriguez, said the South American country would start a process to withdraw from the Organization of American States after the Washington-based body scheduled a special meeting to discuss Venezuela's political crisis. Speaking on state television on Wednesday evening, she said President Nicolas Maduro had ordered Venezuela's withdrawal and that a letter would be sent to the OAS on Thursday.

While largely symbolic as a formal withdrawal can only occur after a two-year waiting period, the move will increase Venezuela's isolation in the region. The OAS, founded in 1948, promotes democracy, human rights, security and development, and all 35 independent states of the Americas have signed its charter, according to its website .

“Today is a victorious day for Venezuela as we wake up more free and independent,” Rodriguez said Thursday in Caracas at a press conference to address the OAS withdrawal before moving on to comment on the European Parliament. “A continent in decline, that's where Europe is headed. They can't give Venezuela lessons. And if they encourage those who are violent, they are part of the campaign that supports terrorist groups.”

‘Very Sad'

U.S. President Donald Trump called the situation in Venezuela “a mess” and “very sad,” when he met with his Argentine counterpart Mauricio Macri today.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro has criticized the Maduro administration after the Venezuelan leader stripped powers from the opposition-controlled National Assembly and more than 28 people died in the protests, according to Venezuela's public prosecutor.

Canada's embassy in Caracas also joined in the call for elections in a post on its Twitter account.

Opposition lawmakers met on Thursday in Caracas and unveiled a list of demands that included the designation of an impartial electoral board, early presidential elections, an immediate date for overdue regional elections, government authorization to accept humanitarian aid shipments of food and medicine, respect for the autonomy of the opposition-controlled National Assembly and the release of all political prisoners.

Opposition supporters then marched in Caracas to honor those who have died during this month's protests including a 20-year-old student who became the latest causality after he was hit by a tear gas canister in the eastern Altamira neighborhood of the city on Wednesday during clashes with the National Guard.

On Friday, the opposition is expected to hold more demonstrations to call for the release of political prisoners.

The government earlier moved imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez to solitary confinement, which Amnesty International called “unlawful.” His wife, Lilian Tintori, who posted the Amnesty statement on her Twitter feed , wrote that the opposition leader's lawyers were not allowed to see him Wednesday.

“Venezuelans will stay in the streets in peace until the dictatorship falls,” she wrote on her Twitter account.

Story by Nathan Crooks and Fabiola Zerpa from Bloomberg.

bloomberg.com 04 27 2017

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