Opposition lawmaker from Venezuela seeks help in Europe

Caracas (AFP) –


One of Venezuela's leading opposition figures, national assembly leader Julio Borges was in Europe Sunday ahead of meetings with European leaders for talks on Venezuela's deadly political crisis, he said.

Borges was due to meet with the leaders of France, Germany, Spain and Britain.

"The first meeting Borges has is with French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday; then on Tuesday he will go to Madrid for a meeting with Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy," according to a statement.

Wednesday, Borges, who leads the opposition-dominated assembly that President Nicolas Maduro has effectively shut down, meets in Berlin with Chancellor Angela Merkel, ahead of a stop in London for a private meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May.

On Saturday, Lilian Tintori, an activist and wife of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, said on Twitter that Venezuelan immigration officials confiscated her passport on orders from the chief prosecutor's office.

The assembly's number two official, Freddy Guevara said on Twitter that he was with Borges on the trip and brought along Tintori's concerns.

International powers accuse Maduro of dismantling democracy by taking over state institutions in order to resist opposition pressure for him to quit, amid an economic crisis that has caused shortages of food and medicine.

"I was ready to report that there are human rights violations in Venezuela; that it is a dictatorship, that there are 590 political prisoners; and that 53 percent of our children are malnourished," she stressed Saturday.

Tintori's husband was sentenced in 2015 to nearly 14 years in prison on charges of inciting deadly violence in street protests.

In July, Lopez was moved to his home and placed under house arrest after spending nearly 3.5 years in a military prison.

Venezuela is suffering an economic crisis that has caused epic food and medicine shortages.

Prosecutors say some 130 people were killed this year in four months of anti-government protests.

Maduro says the crisis is a US-backed conspiracy. He has vowed to request an Interpol notice for Ortega's arrest.