Tomas Guanipa, a leading political figure and member of the Primero Justicia (PJ) party, was briefly detained this afternoon by a group of unidentified men who took him to a local police station and held him there for some time.
Guanipa was in the San Francisco municipality of Zulia, his home state, when he was detained by a group of men. The men were not wearing uniforms, and did not identify themselves as belonging to any police agency.
After he was released, Guanipa posted a video on his Instagram account detailing the ordeal he had just gone through. Below, the video along with my translation:
Guanipa: Today is September 29th. It’s 12:40 in the afternoon. We have just left the San Francisco police headquarters. We were at an event in Los Cactus, in the Domitila Flores parish. We were walking, chatting with people, when a group of criminals–that’s what they were–came up to us, armed. They were sent by Dirwings Arrieta, the mayor of the San Francisco municipality, and the usurper of the Zulia governorship, Omar Prieto.
They physically and verbally assaulted us. They took us out of our vehicles and detained us, and took us to the San Francisco police headquarters.
We want to stress our choice to continue to fight for Venezuelan democracy. Let us fight, and mount all of the pressure needed until Nicolas Maduro vacates the presidency [so that] we can rebuild our country. Venezuela does not deserve what it is living through. Let us not allow ourselves to be humiliated. Let us move on from this nonsense. And we will!
In the video, Guanipa refers to the governor of Zulia state, Omar Prieto, as “the usurper”. This is because Guanipa won the 2017 gubernatorial election in Zulia state. However, Guanipa was removed from his position and replaced with Prieto, a member of the ruling PSUV party, after he refused to be sworn in by Maduro’s Constituent Assembly.
Guanipa told reporters that the men who detained him also beat him, and that they were “armed to the teeth”. Guanipa also said that the men told him the following:
You think that you’re going to hold an event in the San Francisco municipality and get away unharmed?
It is not uncommon for agents with the regime’s internal security services–the SEBIN and the DGCIM–to operate in civilian clothing.
Given his popularity and outspokenness, Guanipa has long been the target of harassment and intimidation by the Maduro regime. Just this past July, Guanipa’s home was surrounded by SEBIN agents for no discernible reason.
Regime to Announce New Price of Gas Next Week
Last night, the Ministry of Oil announced through its official account that Venezuelans will find out next week how much they will have to pay for gas at the pumps under a new scheme that will see prices increase dramatically.
The message reads:
President Nicolas Maduro has indicated that in the next few days the country will find out the details of the new price of gasoline and of the direct subsidy to the people who register with the National Transport Census.
Venezuelans have historically enjoyed the lowest gas prices on earth, with a full tank of gas even on large vehicles costing much less than a bottle of water.
Over the past few years, Maduro has hinted that a gas price was coming, but never fully committed to one until this.
The last time that a Venezuelan government hiked the price of gas was in 1989. That move sparked a series of protests known as El Caracazo that left hundreds of people dead, and heralded the end of Venezuela’s fame as a beacon of stability in the region.
In August, Maduro announced that the price hike was coming, but provided few details on the measure beyond saying that it would rise to “international prices”.
The price hike announcement was accompanied by a controversial national transport census, during which the regime hoped to register every single vehicle in the country in database for reasons that were never made entirely clear. Hoping to beat cynicism, the regime announced that any person who registered their vehicle during the census would also become eligible to receive a direct gas subsidy once the price hike came into effect.
The census is all the more controversial because it requires individuals who wish to register their vehicles to have a carnet de la patria [Motherland I.D.], which many Venezuelans refuse to get because they see it as akin to a PSUV membership card.
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