Ally of Venezuelan Opposition Leader Is Detained, Guaidó Says
The vice president of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly was detained by intelligence officers in the capital on Wednesday night, the latest sign of crackdown following a failed call for a military uprising against President Nicolás Maduro last week.
The vice president, Edgar Zambrano, was surrounded by intelligence officers after leaving his party’s headquarters in the capital, Caracas, he said on Twitter. He was towed away in his car after refusing to leave his vehicle, according to Mr. Zambrano and witnesses.
A member of the moderate Democratic Action opposition party, Mr. Zambrano joined the head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, and a few dozen dissident soldiers last week outside a military base as Mr. Guaidó tried to take the base and set off a national rebellion. The call to oust Mr. Maduro failed to convince the military to switch sides en masse, however.
Instead, clashes broke out across Caracas between demonstrators and forces loyal to Mr. Maduro, injuring dozens before Venezuela largely returned to its recent status quo: a protracted political standoff as the country slid into further shortages of food, medicine and electricity.
Venezuela’s pro-government Supreme Court had stripped Mr. Zambrano of his parliamentary immunity earlier Wednesday, paving the way for his detention.
He is at least the fourth prominent ally of Mr. Guaidó to be detained or forced to flee the country since January, when Mr. Guaidó proclaimed himself the country’s rightful leader, asserting that Mr. Maduro was an illegitimate autocrat who had remained in power through an election widely believed to be fraudulent.
Since then, more than 50 countries, including the United States, have sided with Mr. Guaidó, while Mr. Maduro has been backed by several longtime allies, including Russia and Cuba.
“The regime has seized the first vice president,” Mr. Guaidó tweeted on Wednesday night, naming Mr. Zambrano and the National Assembly. “They intend to disintegrate the power that represents all Venezuelans, but they will not succeed.”
Mr. Zambrano’s exact status on Wednesday night was not immediately clear.
Chile’s foreign minister, Roberto Ampuero, condemned Mr. Zambrano’s “arbitrary detention,” writing on Twitter, “We hold the dictatorship of Maduro responsible for this new abuse of human rights and the intensification of the repression that Venezuelans are suffering.”