Venezuela arrests close ally of opposition leader Machado

By Thomson Reuters Mar 9, 2024 | 4:24 PM

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s attorney general on Saturday announced the arrest of a regional campaign leader for opposition leader Maria Corina Machado, citing alleged conspiracy, among other crimes.

Attorney General Tarek William Saab accused Emill Brandt Ulloa of taking part in violent demonstrations against the government in January, adding he will be prosecuted in an anti-terrorism court in Caracas.

Venezuela will hold its next presidential election on July 28, though uncertainty remains over who will be the opposition coalition’s candidate, since the country’s top court upheld a ban for Machado to run earlier this year.

Machado has said her ban was contrived by President Nicolas Maduro’s government to protect him from a viable challenger.

The Attorney General’s office is seeking to avoid the anarchy seen in Haiti at the moment, the attorney general wrote in a post on social media platform X when referring to the arrest.

Machado’s ally will also be charged with gender-based violence and insulting an official, he noted.

Machado warned earlier on Saturday that the Maduro government had “kidnapped” Brandt.

In January, three regional leaders of Machado’s team were arrested and linked to an alleged conspiracy against the government, according to information from the attorney general’s office.

The attorney general said at the time that they were part of a group of at least 11 people who allegedly tried to rob a military facility last year, to then attack Freddy Bernal, the pro-government governor in the state of Tachira, which borders Colombia.

(Reporting by Deisy Buitrago; Writing by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)