National Assembly president Juan Guaido was arrested today by agents from the SEBIN, the regime’s political police, while driving to a town hall meeting in Vargas state. The moment was caught in a dramatic video which shows SEBIN agents shoving their victims into a white SUV, which then speeds away:
After some initial confusion about Guaido’s whereabouts, his wife tweeted shortly after 1:00 PM that he had been released:
I want to thank everyone for their immediate reaction and support in light of the abuse against my husband @JGuaido by the dictatorship. I am now with him. The dictatorship will not be able to break his fighting spirit. We are now heading to the [town hall meeting].
Guaido’s detention drew widespread condemnation, including from Luis Almagro, the secretary general of the Organization of American States. Almagro called Guaido’s arrest “a kidnapping” and a crime, and called the SEBIN “a tool of repression… that serves the narcodictatorship”.
Two journalists were also arrested at approximately the same time by SEBIN agents at their headquarters in Caracas. The detained journalists are Beatriz Adrian from Caracol Radio and Osmary Hernandez from CNN en Espanol.
Adrian was live on the air when she was arrested. Below, the moment when Adrian and Hernandez were detained:
Anchor: … Juan Guaido. We’re now in contact with our correspondent there, Beatriz Adrian. Beatriz, what details have you got for us about deputy Guaido’s detention?
Adrian: Look, the most important thing I’ve got to say right now is that we were covering the situation with deputy Guaido and we’ve just been detained by SEBIN officers. They’re taking our phones right now, mine and that of Osmany Hernandez from CNN.
We are reporting live for you. They’ve arrested Juan Guaido, National Assembly president in [unintelligible], just as he was driving to a rally. But, while we were here filing a report from Plaza Venezuela, at the SEBIN tower–several SEBIN officers are now surrounding us with rifles and are telling us to hang up right away.
Osmany Hernandez from CNN and I, from Radio Caracol, are now walking into the offices of the [SEBIN]. This is all happening, as you’ll remember, because just a few minutes ago National Assembly president Juan Guaido, after making a statement at the rally–[call cuts off].
Anchor: Beatriz, let’s be clear, you are being arrested alongside your colleague right
Anchor: We’ve lost contact with Beatriz. She’s just told us that she she was being detained just as she was reporting about some breaking news. She told us that deputy Juan Guaido…
Adrian and Hernandez were released after a relatively short time at the SEBIN headquarters.
Bizarre Arrest, Release Hint at Internal Struggle
Shortly after Guaido was released, vice president for communications Jorge Rodriguez issued a televised statement disavowing the SEBIN officers who took him in, and suggested that they had acted without proper authorization from their superiors.
Rodriguez said that the officers “lent themselves” to the event, essentially suggesting that Guaido and/or the opposition had staged the kidnapping with their help in order to give the regime a bad name. As evidence, Rodriguez pointed to the “too convenient” fact that journalists were ready to cover Guaido’s detention.
Below, Rodriguez’s statement:
Rodriguez: … these officers who lent themselves to this show against [unintelligible] are being fired right now, and they’re being disciplined in the strictest manner so that we can find out for sure if they lent themselves to carry out this event.
We say “lent themselves” because it’s too convenient that just as this situation with deputy Juan Guaido started to be shared on social media, journalists from foreign outlets–from North America and Colombia–showed up at the SEBIN headquarters looking who knows what in order to continue with this media show.
The situation is now fully resolved. There was an event on the Caracas-La Guaira highway that has now been fully resolved, and we are applying severe disciplinary action against the officers who carried out this irregular act.
Guaido Speaks at Rally After Arrest
After his release, Guaido immediately made his way to the town hall rally to which he was traveling when he was detained.
At the event, Guaido spoke directly to Maduro and the regime, saying:
I want to send a message to Miraflores [the seat of Maduro’s power]: the game has changed, friends. The people are on the streets.
Guaido said that he was not afraid for his safety, and pointed out instead that “the five, six members of a criminal elite” are the ones who are fearful.
Guaido said that he had a chance to speak to the SEBIN agents who arrested him about “peace, democracy and amnesty”, and that he was sure that the men who took him did not want to do it.
On Jorge Rodriguez’s comments saying that the agents had acted on their own accord without authorization, Guaido said that such a fact would mean that there has been a “break in the chain of command” inside the regime. He also said that it was evidence that the regime was “desperate”.
Guaido tweeted from the event:
I’m home now, in my Vargas state. The regime tried to stop me, but nothing or no one can stop us. Here we are, fighting for our Venezuela.
Below, a video of Guaido’s speech in Vargas state today:
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