Just one day after the US State Department began calling for Venezuela opposition leader Juan Gualdo to seize power, Gualdo was arrested by the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service. He was reportedly released later in the day.
President Nicolas Maduro was recently elected to a second term in office. The US, however, says they will never recognize those results, and has said Gualdo’s proposal to name himself “interim president” would be the way to restore democracy after the low turnout in Maduro’s reelection.
Over the last few days, Gualdo has urged the public into the streets to endorse his takeover, and also encouraged the Venezuelan military to support the idea. Maduro is accusing him of sewing discontent.
Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said the arrest of Gualdo was “arbitrary” and had never been ordered by the government. At the same time, Iris Varela, the minister who oversees Venezuela’s prisons said Gualdo should name his cabinet quickly so she knows who is going to prison with him.
The Trump Administration has long been keen on regime change in Venezuela, and President Trump has spoken favorably of the idea of a military coup in the country. This public position has allowed Maduro to paint his opposition as part of a US-backed effort at installing a puppet.
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