Venezuela Opposition Leaders Detained at Gunpoint, Witnesses Say

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Videos appear to show Lopez, Ledezma being taken away Venezuela’s most high-profile opposition figures were seized from their homes by security forces, according to people close to them, in what appeared to be a crackdown on officials challenging the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was taken from his home at gunpoint, his wife said, just weeks after he had been transferred from military prison to house arrest after three years behind bars.
Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma was also seized, according to opposition lawmaker Richard Blanco.
Videos of the detentions were posted on Twitter.
“They’ve just taken Leopoldo from the house,” Lilian Tintori, his wife, said on her Twitter account.
“We don’t know where he is, or where they are taking him.
” Lopez has become a symbol for rights groups and foreign governments, who’ve said his detention -- including stints in solitary confinement -- was clear evidence that Maduro’s government was willing to trample basic rights to guarantee its stay in power.
As Venezuelans suffer basic shortages and street violence escalates, Maduro is seeking to rewrite the constitution after a referendum on Sunday that the opposition and many foreign governments refused to recognize, saying it was riddled with fraud.
Read more: Is Venezuela Becoming a Cuba-Style Dictatorship? “If something happens to him, Maduro will be held responsible,” Tintori said.
She released footage from a security camera that appeared to show armed security forces putting Lopez into a car marked with the seal of the intelligence police, known as Sebin.
Bloomberg couldn’t immediately confirm the authenticity of the video.
Calls to the Venezuelan embassies in Madrid and London for comment weren’t answered.
Ledezma, who opposes Maduro, was also taken from home and his whereabouts are similarly unknown, opposition lawmaker Richard Blanco on Twitter.
Blanco released a video taken from a mobile phone that appeared to show Ledezma still in pajamas being led away by armed forces.
“They’re taking Ledezma!” screams a woman in the video.
“Dictatorship!” The Trump administration on Monday sanctioned Maduro -- who has led Venezuela since the death of Hugo Chavez in 2013 -- accusing him and his government of undermining democracy.
The political and economic crisis in the once rich oil-producing country has brought soldiers onto the streets and forced Venezuelans to stockpile food and water.
— With assistance by Rodrigo Orihuela, Javier Blas, and Nour Al Ali.

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