CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on the political situation in Venezuela (all times local):
Two judges appointed by Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly have taken refuge in the residence of the Chilean ambassador in Caracas.
Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz tweeted Tuesday that Beatriz Ruiz and Jose Fernando Nunez arrived “in search of protection” and said they have been offered asylum if they want it.
Ruiz and Nunez were among 33 judges sworn in on July 21 by the National Assembly in defiance of Venezuela’s government-stacked Supreme Court. The country’s highest court quickly declared the appointments unconstitutional and said the judges would be illegally usurping power and betraying the nation if they tried to take their new posts.
The pair joins another Venezuelan judge who took refuge in the Chilean residence in Caracas. At least three judges appointed by the National Assembly have been detained.
The White House is condemning what it calls “the Maduro dictatorship” over the arrests of two top opposition leaders in Venezuela before dawn Tuesday.
Opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma had been under house arrest but security force officers hustled them off to a military prison.
In a statement, the White House calls them political prisoners and says they are “being held illegally by the regime” led by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
The statement adds: “The United States holds Maduro — who publicly announced just hours earlier that he would move against his political opposition — personally responsible for the health and safety of Mr. Lopez, Mr. Ledezma, and any others seized.”
Venezuela’s vice president says the newly elected constituent assembly that could dramatically reshape the nation’s government will be convening “within hours.”
In remarks aired on Venezuela’s state television Tuesday, Tareck El Aissami said that results from Sunday’s election have been reviewed and the 545 assembly members will soon take the reins of the nation’s government. He didn’t give a specific time, though.
President Nicolas Maduro had stated previously that the constituent assembly would take power within 72 hours, but he also has given no precise date.
The assembly is being granted vast powers to revamp Venezuela’s government. Maduro and high-profile members of the assembly are promising to target the opposition-controlled legislature and the office of the chief prosecutor, which has become one of…