Mexico gives ‘protection’ to Venezuelan opposition lawmaker

The four members of the Embassy Protection Collective still remaining inside the embassy

The Constituent Assembly, a rival legislative body that was created by the Maduro government and is packed with people who support him, voted Tuesday to strip immunity from five more opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly.

"In line with its diplomatic tradition, the government of Mexico received National Assembly deputy Franco Manuel Casella today at its diplomatic residence in Caracas to provide him protection and safety", the Mexican Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The move came as Amnesty International said it believes the Venezuelan authorities have committed crimes against humanity in their crackdown on anti-government protests, and urged the International Criminal Court to investigate.

The pro-Maduro activists have refused an order to leave, issued after Juan Guaidó, the self-declared interim president of Venezuela recognised by more than 50 countries, appointed a new United States ambassador, Carlos Vecchio, who is due to take over the embassy.

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Flores said he would make an "emergency" trip to Uruguay to denounce the wave of accusations against Venezuelan lawmakers to the parliament of the Mercosur trade bloc, where he is also a representative, in Montevideo.

Two of the lawmakers under investigation have sought refuge at the Italian embassy and one at the Argentinian embassy in Caracas.

Opposition leaders have in recent weeks called such charges an effort by the ruling Socialist Party to shut the legislature.

Edgar Zambrano, the vice president of the assembly, was also arrested last week.

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"This is a dictatorship that goes after dissidents, and we are fighting for a political change", lawmaker Juan Pablo Guanipa told Reuters, referring to the blocking of congress. At least 33 were shot dead by the security forces, and six by government supporters.

The threats against the legitimate Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, from American officials and the Gauido, who all the time assumes the right to call for a foreign invasion, have nothing to do with democracy, he stated.

Over the weekend, Guaido's "envoy" to the US, Carlos Vecchio, sent a letter addressed to US Adm. Craig S. Faller of SOUTHCOM requesting a "meeting with a technical delegation to advance in strategic and operational planning" in order to "restore democracy" in Venezuela.

The government stripped the assembly of most of its powers after the opposition won a majority in 2015 elections.

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