Peru’s president warns of refugee crisis in Venezuela

(Al Jazeera) – The deadly unrest in Venezuela could lead to “a blood bath” and spark a major refugee crisis, Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski warned as violence continued in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas.

On Monday, protesters attacked a branch of the Supreme Court with petrol bombs and damaged a bank in the same building, which was engulfed in flames and smoke.

Several protesters were injured as security guards tried to repel them.

Speaking in Madrid, Kuczynski said Venezuela’s months-long political and economic crisis, which has seen thousands march for and against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, could force people to leave the country in droves.

“If nothing is done, it will end in a blood bath, there will be a [migratory] invasion in Cucuta [in Colombia],” said Kuczynski, a sharp critic of Maduro.

“Two or three democratic countries” could join several other allies of Venezuela as part of the commission, Kuczynski suggested, judging that all other attempts at easing the situation through multilateral organisations have failed.

He added that Venezuelans could also start crossing over to the Dutch island of Curacao north of their country in boats.

More than 60 people have been killed and hundreds more arrested during months of violent clashes in Venezuela.

The country’s chief prosecutor said her family had been threatened and followed by intelligence agents since she split with the government.

Luisa Ortega, a former ally of President Maduro who has turned against him and the ruling Socialist Party, questioned Maduro’s handling of opposition street protests in recent weeks and challenged his plan to rewrite a constitution brought in by late leader Hugo Chavez.

“Somebody is threatening my family,” she said in a radio interview. “They harass them. They follow them, patrol cars that look like SEBIN,” she said, referring to the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN).

Police arrested 24 people for their involvement in the daylight attack on a busy office block on Monday, which was condemned by President Maduro as a terrorist act.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said it was the work of government agitators.

Outside the Supreme Court headquarters in downtown Caracas, protesters backing Ortega were confronted earlier by government supporters.

Maduro says Venezuela is the victim of an “economic war” that he says can only be addressed by a constituent assembly.

The elections council has set an election for the assembly for July 30. The opposition is refusing to participate in the vote, saying it is rigged in favour of the Socialist Party.

Student march

A group of Venezuelan university students is walking across the country in protest against the government.

The group, which calls itself ‘380 Kilometers for Venezuela,’ is made up of several university student groups outside Caracas, and set out to journey nearly 380km from the city of Barquisimeto – the capital of the northwestern Lara state – over the weekend.

“We are against the Constituent, against repression … We are doing this daily, walking sector by sector and we hope that people will join us; that other student movements join us to achieve tangible change in the current situation in Venezuela,” Aime Enege, medical student and representative for the group, said.

As the political and economic situation becomes increasingly volatile, senior citizens in Venezuela are suffering the most.

Nine out of 10 Venezuelans are not earning enough to cover their basic needs, and 63 percent do not have health insurance.

Venezuela also has the highest elderly poverty rate in the region.

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