Venezuelan Main Opponent Blocked From UN Trip

Henrique CaprilesHenrique Capriles

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, said on Thursday that his passport was confiscated when he was at the airport outside Caracas for a flight to New York, where he was to visit the United Nations and denounce human rights violations.

“My passport is valid until 2020. What they want to do here is avoid us going to the United Nations,” Capriles said, before returning to the capital to join a protest march, Reuters reported.

The UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, was due to meet Capriles in New York on Friday.

“Hope (Capriles’) passport removal is not reprisal linked to plan meeting with me tomorrow,” Zeid said on Twitter.

The move comes a month after Capriles, a two-time presidential candidate who was seen by many as the opposition’s best chance in the presidential election scheduled for 2018, was banned from holding political office for 15 years.

US President Donald Trump has described Venezuela’s crisis as a “disgrace”.

The US treasury has put eight Supreme Court members on a financial blacklist.

It called this punishment for undermining the country’s democratically elected congress by assuming its powers in late March. A senior official in Washington said further action would be taken if there was no improvement in Venezuela following weeks of worsening instability.

At least 43 people have died in the last seven weeks in violence related to the anti-government protests.

The opposition and the government accuse each other of trying to stage a coup.

“I have not been able to travel,” Capriles said in a video posted online. “I will not be able to attend the meeting with the high commissioner for human rights.”

Capriles, who is seen as the opposition’s best hope of defeating President Nicolas Maduro in elections next year, has been at the forefront of demands for a presidential recall referendum.

He was recently banned from politics for 15 years.

In Thursday’s video, he said he would return to the streets to join an anti-government march.


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