Venezuelan prosecutors on Monday said they had charged opposition politician Freddy Guevara with terrorism and treason, among other allegations, after the country’s intelligence service arrested him from his car on a Caracas highway.
Jul 12, 2021
Guevara is a close ally of opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is recognized as the South American country’s legitimate president by the United States and others. Guaido said unidentified armed men threatened him with arrest earlier on Monday as he left his apartment in an effort to assist Guevara.
In a statement, the chief prosecutor’s office said it had sought an arrest warrant for Guevara due to his alleged “ties with extremist groups and paramilitaries associated with the Colombian government.”
The incidents took place as the government and opposition prepare for negotiations planned for next month in Mexico with mediation by Norway aimed at resolving the South American country’s deep political crisis, people familiar with the matter told Reuters last week.
“I agree with the Mexico and Norway table, but there must be conditions, there must be an express renunciation of violent practices,” Maduro said, adding that the United States and European Union should lift sanctions on Venezuela before the negotiations begin.
The U.S.-backed opposition labels President Nicolas Maduro a dictator, alleging he rigged his 2018 re-election and uses the justice system to stifle dissent.
“We strongly condemn the arrest of Venezuelan Congressman Freddy Guevara and threats against Interim President Juan Guaido in Venezuela,” Julie Chung, Acting Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, wrote on Twitter.
Maduro, who retains the support of the military, denies that the election was rigged, has labeled Guaido a U.S. puppet and has accused him of conspiring to oust him in a coup.
A spokesperson for Guaido’s office said Guevara, who was pardoned less than a year ago on 2017 charges of instigating violence, was taken to the Sebin intelligence service’s Helicoide prison in Caracas. The prosecutor’s office did not specify where he was being held.