Maduro said during a press conference today that Venezuela now has 77 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase of seven cases from yesterday. He said that two of the cases were confirmed yesterday, and that the five others were confirmed today.
Maduro also repeated the claim that all 77 cases are “imported”, meaning that officially there is no community transmission of the virus in Venezuela as of yet. However, this information directly contradicts an earlier claim from the Maduro government, which said on March 14 that two people had contracted COVID-19 in Venezuela through community transmission.
During the same speech, Maduro announced that businesses and tenants would be exempted from paying rent for the next six months in order to encourage Venezuelans to stay home from work and to provide financial relief during the unprecedented crisis.
Journalist Arrested After “Anonymous” COVID-19 Tip
A journalist named Darvinson Rojas was arrested last night by officers with the FAES, a feared branch of the National Bolivarian Police. According to Rojas–who live-tweeted the arrest–the officers showed up at his home at approximately 8:30 PM without a warrant, and demanded that he go with them to their station.
Rojas claims that the officers told him that they were arresting him following an “anonymous call saying that there was a case of COVID-19”, presumably in his home.
Rojas said in his Twitter thread that the masked officers refused to leave the area after he told them that he would not open the door unless they presented him with an arrest warrant. One of the officers allegedly replied:
My boss will come, and he will do this the hard way.
Rojas’ last tweet of the night was sent at 9:04 PM local time, and read:
FAES OFFICERS WANT TO ARREST ME
After being held incommunicado for most of the day, Rojas’ parents were able to establish contact with their son. His father told the national press union that he was being held in isolation and that he is not being mistreated.
Rojas’ father said that he knew why he had been arrested, and that his son said that that information was not communicated to him. However, Rojas also said that he met with FAES officers yesterday, and that they compared his tweets regarding the COVID-19 outbreak in Venezuela to official information from the Maduro regime, suggesting that his detention might be related to his reporting on the crisis.
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