‘Media show’? Venezuelan minister says pro-coup opposition leader’s arrest ‘staged,’ officers fired
The dramatic arrest of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó – who is calling for a coup to depose President Nicolas Maduro – was not government-ordered and may have been staged for media, minister Jorge Rodriguez told RT.
The brief detention of leader of the National Assembly made headlines on Sunday, and came two days after the man had vowed to assume the presidency and called for an uprising, an armed coup and an international “mandate” for him to replace the incumbent Maduro.
A statement reading: “We inform the world and the country that today, Jan. 13, a SEBIN commando detained the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly and we do not know where he is,” earlier appeared on Guaidó’s Twitter account.
But Communications Minister Rodriguez told RT Spanish over the phone that “there was actually no detention. Several security service employees acted on their own and carried out an unlawful act at the Caracas highway.”
The situation had been fully resolved since then, with Guaidó currently out of detention, while the incident is being investigated, he said.
“The responsible servicemen have already been fired from their positions and will face disciplinary sanctions because they were attempting to put up a media show in Venezuela and abroad,” the minister said.
He then lashed out at the opposition’s right-wing leaders, calling them “masters of such staged events, from which they later benefit.”Also on rt.com Venezuelan opposition seeks to depose Maduro in US-backed ‘democratic’ coup
Guaidó reacted to Rodriguez’s comments by claiming the chain of command was violated and that Maduro wasn’t in control of the state security agencies anymore.
“They tried to handcuff me, but I didn’t allow that because I’m the head of the National Assembly,” the opposition leader told the Nacional paper, recalling his arrest.
The opposition leader was reportedly apprehended on his way to an anti-government rally as his SUV was intercepted on a highway by Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) agents.
An unverified video of what is claimed to be the moment of Guaidó’s detention has been reposted on social media.
An unnamed congressional official soon told Reuters that Guaidó was only held for a short time by the authorities and then released.
Venezuela’s socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, was sworn in for a second term on Thursday, but the opposition-run congress has called his reelection illegitimate.
During a rally on Friday, Guaidó announced that he was eager to assume the presidency in the country, and urged both the army and “the international community” to help him depose Maduro.
Following the call for a coup, the US State Department said that it was time to “begin the orderly transition to a new government” in Venezuela and praised “the commitment to democratic principles of the elected members of the Venezuelan National Assembly.” It also called on the Venezuelan people and the army to “uphold and respect the role of the National Assembly” and ensure “all protections the constitution affords to Guaidó.”
A lawmaker from the Popular Will opposition party, Guaidó became the head of the National Assembly on January 5. He has blasted Maduro as a “dictator,” who was only in charge of “de facto” government. Washington, which has been actively pushing for a regime change in Venezuela, was quick to throw its weight behind Guaidó.
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