CARACAS – Even after a weeklong power outrage that loomed across the country, President Nicolas Maduro continues to have support in some parts of the country thanks to his predecessor, Hugo Chavez. In many parts of Venezuela, citizens rely heavily on government benefits and food for basic needs. Maduro solidifies his authority by having parts of the country need these benefits for survival while discouraging dissent.
Maduro has sent a message to the U.S., opposition leaders, and citizens: He’s not backing down without a fight. On Thursday, Venezuela’s intelligence forces detained opposition leader Juan Guaido’s chief of staff, Roberto Marrero.
Venezuela’s intelligence agents also apprehended dozens of journalists who have been reporting on the crisis and two state utility workers.
Marrero’s arrested was a part of an operation against a “terrorist” cell, according to Interior Minister Nestor Luis Reverol. In an article published by Time, Reverol said weapons were confiscated and a bodyguard was arrested.
The U.S. continues to hold strong against Maduro’s regime, and voice its support for Guaido.
The United States condemns raids by Maduro’s security services and detention of Roberto Marrero, Chief of Staff to Interim President @jguaido. We call for his immediate release. We will hold accountable those involved.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) March 21, 2019
Trump administration officials Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Secretary Mike Pompeo have all warned against any effort to arrest Guaido – however, Maduro is flexing his muscle over the country by nabbing his number two.
Vice President Mike Pence has been a committed vocal force against Maduro. The Miami Herald published an opinion piece from Pence that called for the release of Marrero from his undisclosed location. The U.S. and 50 other countries continue to call for Maduro to step down. Until he does so, sanctions and international pressure will continue.
Marissa Martinez is a political contributor for Accuracy in Media. She is the former political director to Massachusetts Governor’s re-election campaign, alumna of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and political consultant to national PACs. Follow her AIM border stories, @MarissaAlisa.
Photo by Cancillería Ecuador