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Key figures in Venezuela political crisis

  • Published at 08:57 pm August 6th, 2017
Key figures in Venezuela political crisis

Venezuela's political crisis has propelled several figures, loyalists and opponents, to the fore.

Here are some of the key personalities.

President Nicolas Maduro

A former bus driver turned union leader then right-hand man to late president Hugo Chavez, Nicolas Maduro, 54, took over the country as its fortunes were already declining under diving oil prices.

He has stubbornly maintained Chavez's socialist ideology, but lacks his predecessor's charisma or popular support – or the oil money that paid for social handouts to the poor. As a result, he has increasingly turned to the military to keep order as challenges to his authority mount.

Delcy Rodriguez

A former foreign minister, this 48-year-old lawyer is called "the tigress" by Maduro for her ferocious loyalty and rousing speeches.

On Friday, she was appointed the head of the new Constituent Assembly which is empowered to rewrite the constitution. It's a role that will keep her in the limelight -- and the target of possible sanctions that the United States has threatened against members of the assembly.

Vladimir Padrino

Vladimir Padrino Lopez, defense minister and head of Venezuela's armed forces, is the most pivotal member of Maduro's government, having authority over all other ministries – a third of which are run by current or former military men.

The 54-year-old has shown nothing but loyalty to Maduro. But thus far he has been spared the individual US sanctions leveled at other prominent security officials – possible recognition that he could be the person to take over should the current regime ever change.

Leopoldo Lopez

A Harvard-trained lawyer, Lopez is one of the highest-profile – and surely the most photogenic – of the various opposition leaders.

Elected the mayor of Chacao, an upmarket central Caracas district hostile to Maduro, the 46-year-old economist with a taste for confrontation was arrested in 2014 and sentenced to prison on charges of inciting violence.

He was transferred from prison to house arrest on July 8 – only to be grabbed again by intelligence officers on Tuesday and thrown back into a military cell.

However, Lopez was returned home to serve his sentence under house arrest, days after being hauled back to prison in the middle of the night in a move that drew international condemnation.

Henrique Capriles

Another opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, 45, is governor of Miranda state in Venezuela.

In 2013, he narrowly lost the presidential election to Maduro, taking 49.1% of the vote to Maduro's 50.6%.

Often giving televised news conferences in his country, Capriles has also traveled abroad to highlight the crisis in his country. In May, he said Venezuelan authorities confiscated his passport as he was to discuss the situation with UN officials in New York.

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