Venezuelan security forces re-arrested Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma, key opposition leaders placed on house arrest, during early Tuesday raids, their wives said.
López’s wife Lilian Tintori and Ledezma’s wife Mitzy both confirmed the arrests on Twitter, also sharing videos of the incidents.
The Bolivarian National Intelligence Service, or SEBIN, spy agency carried out the arrests. Tintori said she would blame Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro if anything were to happen to her husband after his arrest at 12:27 a.m. Tuesday.
“They just took Leopoldo from the house. We do not know where he is or where he is taken. Maduro is responsible if something happens to him,” Tintori wrote on Twitter.
Mitzy de Ledezma also said Maduro’s regime is responsible for ensuring her husband’s life and well-being.
“By the force of blows and pushes Antonio was taken from our house. We make the regime responsible for his life and integrity!” Mitzy de Ledezma wrote on Twitter.
Venezuela’s high court — the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, or TSJ — in early July announced López would be relocated out of the Ramo Verde military prison for transfer to house arrest.
Tintori said her husband was tortured and lost about 13 pounds and part of his sight before being placed on house arrest.
Antonio Ledezma, the former mayor of Caracas, was also imprisoned at Ramo Verde before he was granted house arrest in April 2015 after he was hospitalized over a groin hernia that required surgery.
Ledezma was arrested and charged with conspiracy for allegedly “conspiring against the peace and stability of the nation.”
Though Maduro’s regime has not yet cited a reason as to why SEBIN arrested the opposition leaders, some have said it is an act of revenge after López and Ledezma recorded and released respective videos condemning Maduro’s recent National Constituent Assembly, which the opposition has decried as an attempt to rewrite Venezuela’s Constitution to further empower Maduro.
The United States levied new sanctions on Venezuelan leadership after the weekend election gave the Maduro regime virtually unlimited powers, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday.
Venezuela has undergone more than three months of nearly daily protests. Though there have been some demonstrations in support of Maduro’s regime, most are anti-government protests decrying the country’s economic collapse under Maduro’s government and what the opposition says is the deterioration of democracy and the violent repression of peaceful protesters at the hands of Venezuelan security forces.
Venezuela’s economic crisis, exacerbated by a fall in oil prices, has caused basic goods, including food and medicine, to be in short supply, unavailable or unaffordable.
By Andrew V. Pestano