Venezuela won't allow exit of opposition aides in Argentine embassy, says official

venezuela won't allow exit of opposition aides in argentine embassy, says official

FILE PHOTO: Member of the National Assembly and Vice president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) Diosdado Cabello arrives for the signing of an electoral calendar proposal for the country's presidential election made by political organizations, business and religious sectors and social movements, at the Federal Legislative Palace, in Caracas, Venezuela February 28, 2024. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria/File Photo

By Deisy Buitrago

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela will not grant safe passage to leave the country to six opposition aides who have taken refuge in the Argentine embassy in Caracas, a ruling party official said late on Wednesday.

Senior Argentine officials told Reuters this month the administration of President Nicolas Maduro had reneged on April promises to allow the aides to leave. The opposition says Maduro is targeting rivals ahead of July presidential elections.

The government of Argentina's right-wing libertarian president, Javier Milei - who has verbally sparred with Maduro - was going to ramp up pressure on the issue, official sources said, adding the six aides are in physical danger if they do not leave the country.

"Pressure? They will not pressure us," said Diosdado Cabello, second-in-command of Venezuela's ruling socialist party, on his weekly television program.

"Today I think the response of the government of Venezuela came out: denied. There is no safe passage for those who do not love this country," Cabello said.

The aides to Venezuela opposition leader Maria Corina Machado requested asylum in March, after the attorney general's office announced arrest warrants against them for conspiracy.

Machado, who has denied any allegations of misconduct by her team, was replaced as the opposition's candidate after a ban on her holding public office was upheld by the Supreme Court.

She has continued to campaign on behalf of registered candidate Edmundo Gonzalez.

(Reporting by Deisy Buitrago; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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