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21 Mar, 2019 20:57

Guaido’s chief of staff arrested? What we know so far

Guaido’s chief of staff arrested? What we know so far

Venezuela’s self-proclaimed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido has claimed that his chief of staff has been “kidnapped” by Venezuelan security services. While Caracas has not commented on these claims, the US was quick to react.

The officers of the Venezuelan Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) allegedly raided the house of Roberto Marrero, Guaido’s chief of staff, and a member of the self-proclaimed president’s Popular Will party, Sergio Vergara, in the early hours of Thursday, Guaido said in a Twitter post, adding that both politicians were “kidnapped” as a result of the incident.

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Guaido also said that Marrero managed to tell Vergara, who happens to be his neighbor, that the security officials somehow “planted” two rifles and a grenade in his house. The self-proclaimed president then demanded the “immediate release” of his chief of staff, adding that his whereabouts was unknown.

Vergara, an MP at the Venezuelan National Assembly, meanwhile, turned to Twitter to refute the claims about his own “kidnapping,” but confirmed at the same time that Marrero was taken away. Guaido condemned the development by saying that it shows weakness of the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

“As they cannot arrest the interim president, they are looking to capture those closest to him,” Guaido said, referring to himself. Caracas has so far released no official statements on the alleged incident nor did it not comment on Guaido’s claims.

The incident sparked an immediate reaction from Washington. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rushed to Twitter to condemn the development and vow that the US would “hold accountable those involved.”

US National Security Advisor John Bolton called Marrero’s alleged arrest “another big mistake,” adding that it “will not go unanswered.” His words came just days after President Donald Trump mulled imposing new, “tougher” sanctions against Caracas.

The UN Human Rights Chief, who lamented the crippling sanctions Washington imposed against Venezuela just days ago, was also quick to express its concerns about the alleged detention of Marrero and urged the Venezuelan government to “respect due process” and “reveal his whereabouts.”

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