CARACAS — The government of President Nicolás Maduro is intensifying its crackdown on opponents, raising fears of a broader campaign to silence and punish dissent.
Maduro loyalists issued a new arrest warrant for one prominent legislator and vowed to remove his immunity from prosecution in a case that could become a model for targeting other critics. A proposed measure that could imprison opponents for up to 25 years, observers say, could soon make that task easier.
“In its zeal to consolidate authoritarian rule, the government is hardening its course and is now clearly unwilling to tolerate those who advocate a different direction,” said Eric Farnsworth, a former U.S. diplomat who is now vice president of the Council of the Americas, a business group.
The pro-government supreme court issued an arrest warrant late Wednesday for German Ferrer, a national legislator and husband of Luisa Ortega Díaz, whose criticism of the government led to her ouster earlier this month from her job as chief prosecutor….