Freddy Guevara, one of the opposition figures and close to its leader Juan Guaido, was arrested in Caracas on Monday (July 12th) by Venezuelan intelligence, the opposition and the attorney general said.
“Freddy Guevara was arrested by SEBIN [le renseignement] due to its links with extremist and paramilitary groups associated with the Colombian government, writes on Twitter the Attorney General of the Republic, Tarek William Saab. This citizen who has already participated in violent actions in the past, will be charged with terrorism, attack against the constitutional order, treason. “
The opposition had denounced Mr Guevara’s arrest a few hours earlier. “Armed groups, – I cannot qualify them as [groupes issus de] the state – without identification and armed intercepted our vehicle, a few minutes after having done the same with Freddy Guevara, who is missing ”, said Mr. Guaido, who also denounces a ” bullying “ against him.
Member of the former National Assembly still recognized by part of the international community, Mr. Guevara had launched live from his car on social networks: “Forward! Strength and health to my family. Sorry for the pain they are going to endure. I hope it will be short ”.
Authorities accused the opposition, including Mr. Guevara, as well as Colombia and the United States, of being involved in clashes between police and criminal gangs, which left 26 people dead last week.
Washington and Bogota convictions
Former student leader, Freddy Guevara, 35, had already been accused by the authorities of inciting violence during major opposition protests in 2017. 125 people had lost their lives between April and June 2017. He was fled to Chile before being pardoned by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
The arrest comes as power and the opposition seek to resume negotiations before the regional elections in November. Mr. Guevara was notably one of the opponents who met last week with an exploratory mission of the European Union on this election.
The country is in a political impasse, with a president Nicolas Maduro, not recognized by some fifty countries including the United States which seeks to oust him from power, and an opposition leader Juan Guaido, considered as interim president by the United States, but which has no power.
Washington and Bogota condemned the latest developments: “We strongly condemn the arrest. (…) We ask the international community to unite with us to condemn these acts and demand the release of all political detainees ”, wrote on Twitter Julie Chung, Assistant Secretary of State of the United States for the Americas.
Despite 2,200 kilometers of common border, Venezuela and Colombia no longer have diplomatic relations since Bogota recognized the opponent Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela in 2019. Relations between the two neighbors, ideologically opposed, are very tense.