Venezuelan court orders arrest for exiled Chávez foe
Manuel Rosales, who ran against Chávez in 2006, is seeking asylum in Peru.
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Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde said he expects his country to rule on Rosales' asylum request in two weeks.
"The opposition wants the government to give him asylum," Carlos Bruce, an opposition member of Congress, said by telephone from Lima. "I don't know whether Rosales is innocent or not, but he can't get a fair trial in Venezuela. But the [Peruvian] government is handling this case very cautiously because it doesn't want to upset the government of Venezuela."
Chávez and Peruvian President Alan Garcia have had testy relations, although they had a cordial meeting with fellow leaders in Lima last year.
Chávez openly supported Mr. Garcia's opponent in Peru's 2006 presidential race, leftist former colonel Ollanta Humala. Garcia repeatedly said that Mr. Humala would be a Chávez puppet, capitalizing on Chávez's unpopularity in Peru.
Chávez's opponents and many analysts say that Chávez is using his control of Congress and the court system to thwart the opposition in the wake of a major victory in a February national referendum and in advance of an expected dip in his high approval ratings as Venezuela slides into recession.
A Venezuelan military court has jailed Raul Isaias Baduel, who until he resigned as defense minister in 2007 had been part of Chávez's inner circle. A fierce Chávez opponent since then, Mr. Baduel is charged with stealing $19 million in public funds, which he denies.
Congress also has waded in by transferring away 90 percent of the budget and executive powers of Antonio Ledezma, who in November was elected as mayor of metro Caracas, the country's second most important political position.
The government also is threatening to shut down Globovision, the only television station remaining that regularly airs critics of Chávez.
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