The Associated Press reports that Diosdado Cabello, head of the Venezuelan National Assembly, said on Monday that María Corina Machado, the outspoken opposition lawmaker, has lost her seat in the country’s parliament -- and her immunity from prosecution for what government officials allege to be her role in fomenting violence -- after she criticized the government’s own response to opposition protests during an Organization of American States (OAS) summit last week. Cabello said that Corina Machado had forfeited the seat upon accepting Panama’s invitation to occupy their representative’s seat so that she could address the body. 

Cabello claimed that the lawmaker had violated one article of the Venezuelan constitution which stipulates that National Assembly members “shall not be permitted to accept employment, honors or rewards from a foreign government without authorization from the National Assembly” and another which prohibits lawmakers from accepting “public employment positions without giving up their investiture, except in teaching, academic, temporary and care-giving positions, and provided the employment is not intended to be full-time.”  In accepting the offer from Panama, he said, Corina Machado had agreed to represent “a government hostile to the government and people of Venezuela.” 

Upon her arrival in Lima, Peru, where she was set to participate in a International Freedom Foundation summit organized by writer Mario Vargas Llosa, Corina Machado wrote on Twitter, “Landing in Lima. Mr. Cabello: I AM a congresswoman as long the people of Venezuela want me to be." Panamanian ambassador Arturo Vallarino also commented on Cabello’s assertions, calling them “proof of injustice,” adding that “in no part of the world can an Assembly president strip a deputy who has been elected by popular will of her investiture."