The president of Venezuela’s National Assembly was briefly detained on Sunday after confirming that he was ready to step in as leader of the South America nation. Juan Guaido was traveling to a rally when he was stopped by SUVs transporting members of the country’s central intelligence agency.
Videos on social media appeared to show the moments when the SUVs intercepted his car. The national assembly leader was detained and several opposition officials quickly criticized the government for what was happening.
The detention was even confirmed by his wife, who was traveling with him. He was released an hour later and the government released an explanation about the incident. Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said that the agents had acted unilaterally. He said it was a media show and that the agents had been fired.
Some are not convinced that these were rogue agents. The opposition and supporters have accused the government of trying to send a message to those who oppose to them. Many believe the agents had orders from the government to intercept the car.
Mr. Guaido’s detention didn’t stop him from appearing at a rally later that day. During his speech, he mentioned that the comments from the minister were a sign that the government had lost control of its own security forces.
The leader of the national assembly was not the only one detained on Sunday. Osmary Hernandez, who works for the CNN Spanish channel, and Beatriz Adrian, who is part of the Caracol channel, were briefly detained when covering the news. Both channels have been a target of the government for years. Caracol was banned from the country back in 2017 while CNN journalists have had trouble entering the country in recent years.
In recent days, Mr. Guaido has stepped in and made it clear that he plans to be an interim president. Just a few days ago, he became the speaker of the national assembly, which was won by the opposition in a huge victory back in 2015. The government later created a constituent assembly but many see it as illegitimate.
The decision to step in as interim president comes days after Maduro was sworn in for a second term. Many countries, including most of South America, have announced that they will not recognize Maduro as the president. He was the winner of a presidential election last year but that has been surrounded by accusations of fraud. The election was originally scheduled to take place in December but it was moved up.
Maduro won by a wide margin but many have their doubts on the results. The strongest candidates of the opposition did not participate since they considered this election to be unfair.
Venezuela’s economic collapse has left the government with little support from the population. Last year, reports revealed that Maduro’s approval rating was at just 20 percent. Venezuela’s situation continues to get worse by the day as the inflation is setting new records. The IMF predicted last year that inflation would get to 1.3 million percent by the end of 2018. The organization has estimated that it will reach 10 million percent this year.