Five Venezuelans granted diplomatic asylum in Chile

SANTIAGO – Chile has granted diplomatic asylum to four judges and an opposition politician from Venezuela who took refuge in its embassy in Caracas, amid political turmoil as President Nicolas Maduro moves to consolidate power.

“The government of Chile has decided to grant these five Venezuelan citizens diplomatic asylum,” Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz said on Tuesday.

On Monday, Colombia offered political asylum to Venezuela’s former attorney general, Luisa Ortega, a Maduro critic who fled the country after being ousted from office.

Maduro has installed an all-powerful Constituent Assembly packed with loyalists to rule the country while it rewrites the constitution. The assembly has already proclaimed its authority to legislate, pushing aside a National Assembly controlled by the opposition.

It also has signaled its intention to go after opponents it deems responsible for months of street protests against Maduro.

The economy of the once-rich oil exporter is on the brink of collapse, with shortages of food and medicine and skyrocketing inflation fueling opposition demands for early elections and Maduro’s removal from office.