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Venezuelan Opposition Leaders Arrested


Anti-government demonstrators hold candles during a vigil in honor of those who have been killed during clashes between security forces and demonstrators in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, July 31, 2017.

Two Venezuelan opposition leaders were taken from their homes by government security officers Tuesday morning.

Critics of President Nicolas Maduro said the arrests are another sign Maduro is moving toward a dictatorship for Venezuela. The South American country is home to nearly 32 million people.

The arrests of opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma came one day after the United States ordered sanctions against Maduro. The Trump administration said an election Sunday to create a new assembly to rewrite Venezuela’s Constitution took away the “people’s right to self-determination.”

The Maduro government said more than 8 million people voted Sunday to create an assembly to rewrite the Venezuelan constitution. But independent election experts said voter turnout was far lower.

The election was called illegitimate by leaders across North and South America and in Europe.

The families of Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma put videos on Twitter, showing the men being taken from their homes. The two opposition leaders supported protests against Sunday’s vote. Both had been arrested before and both were under house arrest when they were taken from their homes early Tuesday.

Venezuela's opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez holds a national flag outside his home in Caracas, Venezuela on July 8.
Venezuela's opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez holds a national flag outside his home in Caracas, Venezuela on July 8.

Lopez's wife, Lilian Tintori, wrote this on Twitter:

"12:27 in the morning: the moment when the dictatorship kidnaps Leopoldo at my house.”

Venezuela’s Supreme Court said Lopez and Ledezma were arrested because they violated conditions of their house arrest. The court said “official intelligence sources” uncovered an escape plan for the two opposition leaders. Both are former mayors.

The Supreme Court is seen as controlled by Maduro supporters.

Maduro said Monday that he will not change his plans to rewrite the Constitution and to go after his enemies. He said increasing government power is needed to stop the protests that cause the country’s economic problems.

I'm Ashley Thompson.

Bruce Alpert adapted the story for Learning English based on VOA News with additional reporting from the Associated Press and Reuters. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

opposition - n. a political party or other people trying to replace the political party in power

sanctions - n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country

self-determination - n. the right to choose government leaders

illegitimate - adj. not allowed according to rules or laws

moment - n. a time when something takes place

sources -- n. people or groups providing information

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