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Venezuela's Top Court Jails Opposition Mayor for Defying Orders


The Supreme Court had earlier ordered Muchacho and seven other mayors to prevent the erecting of opposition barricades and to remove obstacles where roads were blocked.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice has sentenced to 15 months in jail opposition Mayor Ramon Muchacho of the Caracas municipality of Chacao, which has been the site of intense anti-government protests against President Nicolas Maduro.

After about nine hours of deliberation during a hearing, the court said Muchacho was guilty of failing to enforce a court order to ensure free transit in his district, also banning him from political activity, including his duties as mayor.

Chacao is the smallest, yet wealthiest, district in the capital. In the past four months, its roads have often been blocked by barricades erected by opposition supporters in their efforts to overthrow the democratically-elected government.

On May 24, the Supreme Court ordered Muchacho and seven other mayors to prevent the building of the barricades, and where roads were blocked, to remove the obstacles. The court warned that if the mayors did not follow the order, they could face between six to 15 months in jail.

Unable to leave the country, Muchacho will be detained at the intelligence police headquarters in Caracas while the location of his incarceration is determined. Muchacho, who didn’t appear at the hearings, slammed the ruling as an effort to stamp out dissent.

Apart from Muchacho, four other mayors have also been found guilty for failing to prevent barricades from being erected or dismantling them once constructed.

Venezuela’s opposition is in apparent disarray after failed attempts to stop the recently elected National Constituent Assembly. Turnout at an anti-government march Friday was one of the smallest in four months, where threats to prevent the ANC from being inaugurated did not materialize.

Even opposition violence, that has cost more than 120 deaths since April, has lessened since the ANC election on July 30.
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