Venezuela: Government Targets Opposition Leader Lester Toledo
In response to the Venezuelan government’s ongoing persecution of opposition leader Lester Toledo, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The Maduro administration’s manipulation of the judicial system to prosecute Lester Toledo on bogus criminal charge highlights the erosion of rule of law and separation of powers in Venezuela,” said Carlos Ponce, director for Latin America programs. “The government should end its harassment Toledo and his family and uphold his constitutional rights as a legislator to immunity from prosecution.”
Government action against Lester Toledo, an elected legislator and head of the opposition party Voluntad Popular in the state of Zulia, began August 28 when the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service, the Venezuelan political police, raided Toledo’s house without a warrant, accusing him of criminal conspiracy and financing terrorism. On August 31, authorities issued a warrant for his arrest, defying a constitutional provision that guarantees immunity for legislators.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.