Jorge Ramos, Univision Anchor, Says Venezuelan Government Detained Him
BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Jorge Ramos, a news anchor for the television network Univision, said he was detained by the Venezuelan government during a confrontational interview with President Nicolás Maduro on Monday evening at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas.
“He didn’t like the things we were asking him about the lack of democracy in Venezuela, the torture and the political prisoners,” Mr. Ramos recounted on a Univision broadcast, after he said he was released by the government.
Mr. Ramos said he had been detained for “more than two hours” before he was let go and allowed to return to his hotel. He said the government had confiscated his crew’s equipment, including their phones and memory cards.
“We don’t have anything,” he said. “They have the interviews.”
On Monday night, Kimberly Breier, the assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere at the State Department, said that Mr. Ramos had been detained and called on the government to release him immediately.
“The world is watching,” she wrote on Twitter.
Venezuela’s government did not dispute the account of Mr. Ramos being temporarily held, but appeared to lay the blame on the anchor.
“We don’t lend ourselves to cheap shows,” said Jorge Rodríguez, the government communications minister.
He added, “Hundreds of journalists have come through who received decent treatment that we always give to those who do journalistic work.”
Mr. Ramos, a Mexico-born American journalist, is known for his confrontational questions, particularly with leaders who have attacked the press. In 2015, he tangled with Donald J. Trump, then a presidential candidate, during a news conference in which Mr. Trump eventually had guards force him out of the room.
“Go back to Univision,” Mr. Trump said.
Univision is the largest Spanish-language television network in the United States.
Mr. Maduro has until recently stuck to friendly interviews with state television outlets.
But since the current crisis, where he faces a major challenge from Venezuela’s opposition, whose leader, Juan Guaidó also claims the presidency, Mr. Maduro has conducted a number of interviews with international media outlets including the BBC, Eurovision and ABC, which also conducted an interview with him on Monday.
In the ABC interview, Mr. Maduro defended himself against criticism for blocking aid shipments, which the opposition and the White House demanded he let pass over Venezuela’s borders with Colombia and Brazil.
“Everything the United States government has done is doomed for failure,” Mr. Maduro said. “They’re trying to fabricate a crisis to justify political escalation and a military intervention in Venezuela to bring a war to South America.”
Mr. Ramos said he had been showing images of children eating out of a dumpster to Mr. Maduro, a common sight in Venezuela, where the president has presided over shortages of food and medicine.
“He got up from the interview,” Mr. Ramos said. “Immediately afterward, one of his ministers, Jorge Rodríguez, came to say the interview wasn’t authorized.”
Then, Mr. Ramos said, he was detained.
Later on Monday night, Mr. Ramos, who writes a column that is syndicated by the New York Times Licensing Group, told Reuters that he and his crew would be deported on Tuesday.