UK Politics

UK diplomats' families withdrawn from Venezuela

A man holds a sign with a portrait of opposition leader Antonio Ledezma in front of a wall with a portrait of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez during a news conference Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Two opposition leaders have been put into military prison after President Nicolas Maduro held a controversial vote on Sunday

Families of UK diplomatic staff in Venezuela have been withdrawn from the country because of political unrest.

The Foreign Office said the move was temporary and a precautionary measure after protests in the country.

A controversial vote on Sunday for a constitutional assembly was held by President Nicolas Maduro and 10 people were killed during clashes.

Two opposition leaders who boycotted the election were put in a military prison on Tuesday.

The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice, advising against all but essential travel to the country because of "ongoing unrest and instability".

It said that British people in Venezuela should consider leaving on commercial flights as there was a "risk of significant disruption to transport links in and out of the country".

The advice added: "If the political situation worsens, the British embassy may be limited in the assistance that it can provide."

Calls for condemnation

Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan said President Maduro was "bringing Venezuela to its knees".

He told the BBC: "They have got hyper-inflation - about 700% - they have shot demonstrators, they have arrested members of the opposition. This is a disgraceful regime.

"If the United Nations were to apply sanctions, we would be part of that."

Sir Alan also called for Jeremy Corbyn to condemn the acts of the Venezuelan government after praising it in 2015 - before he became Labour leader.

"There are too few people on the Labour side criticising this government, having expressed massive admiration for Venezuela over so many years," he said.

Shadow transport secretary Andrew McDonald said a statement released by shadow foreign minister Liz McInnes earlier in the week was a "clear condemnation" of the actions of the Venezuelan government and made the Labour Party's position "abundantly clear".

Ms McInnes's statement urged the country to "end the bloodshed immediately".

She added: "President Maduro must respond personally to the legitimate concerns of the international community about the increasingly authoritarian nature of his rule and the growing hardship facing his people."

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