The Latest: Actor says Venezuelan pilot unhappy over crisis

AP News
Posted: Jun 28, 2017 7:52 PM
The Latest: Actor says Venezuelan pilot unhappy over crisis

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on Venezuela's political crisis (all times local):

7:50 p.m.

An actor who worked alongside a Venezuelan police pilot accused of firing at two government buildings from a helicopter says he wasn't surprised by the attack.

In an interview with The Associated Press, actor Marcos Moreno says that like many young police officers, helicopter pilot Oscar Perez was unhappy with Venezuela's growing crisis.

Moreno describes the fugitive police investigator as an honest man of values. He says he doubts suggestions that Perez was part of a government plot to divert attention from President Nicolas Maduro' effort to rewrite the constitution and allow the leader to employ emergency measures.

Perez's helicopter was found in the northern state of Vargas on Wednesday afternoon and a government manhunt for his capture remains underway.


7:05 p.m.

Venezuela's Supreme Court is barring the nation's chief prosecutor from leaving the country and has ordered her bank accounts frozen following her mounting criticisms of President Nicolas Maduro.

The court announced Wednesday that it will proceed with a complaint filed against Luisa Ortega Diaz at a hearing next week.

The government-stacked court said that in the meantime it is imposing "preventative" measures against Ortega Diaz to guarantee its proceedings can advance.

Ortega Diaz is a longtime supporter of the socialist government installed by the late President Hugo Chavez but she has recently become one of Maduro's most vocal critics.


1:40 p.m.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is warning lawmakers on Capitol Hill about Venezuela's worsening crisis and the risk that embattled President Maduro could lead a more aggressive crackdown on protests.

Nikki Haley says Maduro "is saying he is going to use military action."

In her words, "He is very much saying that he is going to get more aggressive and he is blaming the protesters for trying to overthrow his government when all they want is true democracy."

She made the comments Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Haley has been the Trump administration's most-outspoken critic of Venezuela, traveling recently to Geneva to denounce the Maduro's government's record on human rights.


1:30 p.m.

Heavy rainfall isn't keeping President Nicolas Maduro's opponents off the streets.

Dozens of Venezuelans sheltering under umbrellas have blocked traffic on major thoroughfares at several places in the capital, Caracas.

There are reports that security forces have fired tear gas at students gathered outside one university in Caracas.

The four-hour strike was called before Maduro accused a police officer of stealing a helicopter and firing on the Supreme Court and another government building.


1 p.m.

Venezuela's chief prosecutor says she won't recognize three new Supreme Court rulings that she says are a brazen attempt to eliminate her position as the country's top law enforcement official.

Social Security Fails
John Stossel

Luis Ortega Diaz on Wednesday delivered some of her strongest remarks yet against President Nicolas Maduro. She broke with the government three months ago over an earlier ruling stripping the opposition-controlled legislature of its last powers.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued three rulings undermining Ortega. The most important broadens the powers of the pro-government Ombudsman Tarek William Saab, allowing him to carry out criminal investigations that are the exclusive prerogative of Ortega's office.

Ortega says the court's magistrates "are giving the power to investigate human rights abuses to people who possibly are violating those rights."


12:30 a.m.

Venezuela's minister of foreign relations is denouncing the international community for not condemning the actions of a helicopter pilot the government accuses of using gunfire and grenades to attack the Supreme Court and Interior Ministry.

Samuel Moncada on Wednesday singled out Canada, the European Union and the United States for ignoring the attack.

President Nicolas Maduro's administration is characterizing the incident as a "terrorist attack" in which a rogue police pilot fired 15 shots against the Interior Ministry and launched grenades at the court.

No one was injured in the incident.

Opposition leaders are questioning the government's version of events and suggest it might be a setup to divert attention away from Maduro's push to rewrite Venezuela's constitution.