Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó was reportedly arrested and released days after vowing to assume the presidency and calling for an uprising, armed coup and an international “mandate” to depose leader, Nicolas Maduro.
“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,” a statement, published on Guaidó’s Twitter page on Sunday, read. However, an unnamed congressional official soon told Reuters that Guaidó was only held briefly by the authorities and then released.
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.
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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