Venezuelan general appears in NY after 11 months on the run
NEW YORK (AP) — A dissident Venezuelan general who has been in hiding for nearly a year emerged Thursday for a public appearance in New York.
Retired Brig. Gen. Antonio Rivero has been on the run since the president of the socialist South American country ordered his arrest last spring after accusing him of training “fascists” to foment unrest during last year’s street protests.
On Thursday, Rivero spoke to journalists outside the United Nations in his first public appearance in 11 months. He said he had not seen his family in a year and traveled to New York to ask the U.N. to speak out against President Nicolas Maduro’s government and the deteriorating situation in Venezuela and also to urge the world body to help fight for his case.
He said the commission against arbitrary detention fought in his behalf in 2013 when he was jailed briefly on charges of inciting unrest after the country’s disputed presidential election. Now he is asking them to tell Maduro to comply with the resolution asking Venezuela’s government to stop persecuting him.
“I will support all of the international bodies that are trying to show the crisis that continues in the country, especially the human rights violations, which have been a cornerstone of this regime’s strategy to stifle dissent,” he said.
Rivero was once the government’s emergency management director, but he grew concerned about what he viewed as a growing Cuban influence in the military and retired early in 2010 in protest over that and other issues.
He became a fierce critic of the government and in early 2014, he supported a wave of street protests that resulted in more than 40 deaths.
Venezuela’s mission to the U.N. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.