Venezuela Opposition Leader Is Arrested After Proposing to Take Power

Venezuela Opposition Leader Is Arrested After Proposing to Take Power

CARACAS, Venezuela — The president of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly was briefly arrested on Sunday, two days after declaring that he was prepared to take over temporarily as the country’s leader in a renewed push to oust President Nicolás Maduro from power.

The opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, was captured when a van he was traveling in was stopped on a highway on Sunday morning.

A video recorded by a driver on the highway appeared to show masked, heavily armed agents from the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service pulling Mr. Guaidó from his vehicle and pushing him into a white van before driving away.

He was released shortly after, according to Edward Rodríguez, the head of communications for the National Assembly. Mr. Guaidó then traveled to the northern city of La Guaira, where he was due to participate in a town hall event with members of the public.

Jorge Rodríguez, the Venezuelan communications minister, called Mr. Guaidó’s arrest “arbitrary” and said it had not been ordered by the government.

“We have learned that there has been an irregular situation where a group of officials, acting unilaterally, initiated an irregular procedure against congressman Juan Guaidó,” Mr. Rodríguez said, adding that the matter had been “solved.”

“Those officials who volunteered to install this ‘show’ are being dismissed and subjected to the most stringent disciplinary procedures,” Mr. Rodríguez said.

During his speech in La Guaira, Mr. Guaidó questioned the communication minister’s explanation. “If it was something spontaneous, then who is commanding?” he said.

Two journalists covering Mr. Guaidó’s arrest were also detained. The journalists, Osmary Hernández of CNN Español and Beatriz Adrián of Caracol Radio, were arrested in the headquarters of the national intelligence service in central Caracas.

“We have just been detained by members of the Sebin,” Ms. Adrián said in an interview with Caracol, using the acronym for the intelligence service. “They are pointing at us with long guns and asking us to end this call.”

The Foreign Press Association of Venezuela said that both journalists were released several hours later.

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