Venezuelan opposition leader Maria Corina Machado speaks to supporters in
Venezuelan opposition leader Maria Corina Machado speaks to supporters in Caracas' Altamira Square in January 2024 Gabriela Oraa/AFP

Two of the closest collaborators of Venezuelan opposition presidential hopeful María Corina Machado were arrested for allegedly being linked to a supposed plan to generate street violence in the country and to attempt on President Nicolás Maduro's life, reported the Prosecutor's Office this Wednesday.

These arrests occurred amidst Maduro's government escalating its use of "violent repression," as the presidential election, scheduled for July 28th, approaches.This warning stems from the United Nations' International Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela (FFM), which delivered an oral update on the country's situation to the organization's Human Rights Council.

"The Maduro regime unleashes brutal repression against my campaign teams," Machado posted on X.

The collaborators arrested are Henry Alvarez and Dignora Hernandez, the national coordinator and national political secretary of Vente Venezuela, the party led by Machado.

"The purpose is to leave us alone, leave me alone, neutralize me; because they believe that by doing so, they will stop this fight, and they are mistaken," said Machado at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

"What the regime is doing isn't a display of strength, it's a clear indication of their deep-seated weakness," she added.

Venezuela's Attorney General, Tarek William Saab, unveiled a video wherein Emill Brandt, the director of Vente Venezuela's state campaign command in Barinas State, detained earlier this month, allegedly discusses purported plans to destabilize the country if Machado were not permitted to contend for the presidency.

Machado was banned for 15 years from elections after winning the 2023 primaries, annulled by the judiciary. While she aims to challenge this decision, some opposition members propose selecting an unbanned candidate to ensure Maduro faces opposition at the polls.

Since 2013, Nicolas Maduro has presided over severe economic crisis, worsened by US sanctions, that has seen seven million people flee the country as GDP plummeted by 80 percent in a decade

Saab additionally declared arrest warrants for other associates of Machado: Magalli Meda, Machado's campaign manager; Pedro Urruchurtu, international campaign coordinator; and Claudia Macero, communications coordinator. The warrants also extend to Fernando Martínez Mottola, Oswaldo Bracho, Omar González, and Humberto Villalobos.

Meda had been considered as a potential substitute for Machado due to her inability to register her presidential candidacy with the National Electoral Council (CNE), according to a Voice of America article.

The arrests coincide with the imminent commencement of the candidate nomination period for the Venezuelan presidential elections, scheduled to take place from March 21st to 25th.

On March 9th, the Attorney General confirmed the arrest of Emil Brand Ulloa, Machado's campaign director in Barinas state, who faces charges of "conspiracy, association, gender violence (physical), and outrage against officials" for alleged assaults on female police officers and soldiers.

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