Once-loyal prosecutor emerges as hero in Venezuela protests

FILE - In this July 4, 2017 file photo, Venezuela's Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz gives a press conference in Caracas, Venezuela. Until recently, Ortega was seen as a hardline loyalist, responsible for scores of arrests on trumped-up charges against anti-government protesters. Now she’s being lionized by the opposition and disaffected supporters of the late Hugo Chavez alike for her decision to break with El Comandante’s hand-picked successor. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File)

 

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro who have taken to the streets day after day now find themselves rallying in support of an unexpected hero: the chief prosecutor who helped throw many of them into jail.

Until recently, Luisa Ortega was seen as a hardline loyalist of the socialist administration, responsible for dozens of arrests on trumped-up charges against anti-government protesters.

But now she is being lionized by the opposition and disaffected supporters of the late Hugo Chavez alike for her decision to break with Maduro, the hand-picked successor to “El Comandante.”

The Venezuelan opposition’s embrace of Ortega, however tactical and awkward, underscores a stark truth after three months of paralyzing but so far unsuccessful protests: Removing Maduro will require winning over some of his backers.

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