Photo: Noticias Caracol

Last Friday, AN Speaker Juan Guaidó said in an open assembly that he’d take “charge of the Presidency,” which opened the way for some chavista threats that ranged from the claim that he’d committed a flagrant crime for which he had to be immediately arrested, to the promise of a prison cell ready for him. For some reason, the usurper Nicolás Maduro decided to disregard everything and called the incident a “Twitter coup” and a “media show.” This Sunday morning, two days later, Guaidó was arrested by a group of SEBIN officers in the Caracas-La Guaira highway while he was going to another open assembly in Vargas State. Guaidó’s arbitrary detention immediately became widely mentioned on Venezuelan social media and in international outlets. He was soon released and went to the event.

The government’s theory: media show

The first explanation about Juan Guaidó’s detention should’ve come from the Interior minister or the head of SEBIN, but it was made by Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez, who called it a “fake positive,” saying that he’d heard about the arrest on social media. Rodríguez hinted that there was some correspondence between the unruly SEBIN officers and international journalists who were at SEBIN HQ in Plaza Venezuela. Later, the government issued a statement about the arrest, blaming the arbitrary abuse on “a group of four SEBIN officers (who) acted irregularly and unilaterally against the lawmaker.” Allegedly, the officers are being investigated after they were suspended from their posts and commissioner Hildemaro José Rodríguez Múcura was held responsible for the action. Rodríguez Múcura is being investigated “for conspiratorial links with Venezuela’s far-right,” but the Prosecutor’s Office hadn’t opened an investigation against him until now.

Guaidó’s explanation

After 1:00 p.m., Juan Guaidó arrived to the open assembly in Caraballeda, saying that the game had changed and that people are on the streets. He said that the National Assembly will defend people’s rights and that he spoke to the officers who detained him about reconciliation and the Amnesty Law for the military that will be discussed this Tuesday in Parliament. Guaidó said that the January 23 protest “will be a scream that will be heard all over Venezuela (…) the people want unity to overcome poverty, to build true peace, in order to prevent what happened [on Saturday] at the University Hospital,” adding that there’s a considerable amount of officers who want an end to this tragedy.

The tragedy in the hospital and the other detention

Electric Energy Minister Luis Motta Domínguez once again had the nerve to explain the blackout reported at the Caracas’ University Hospital (HCU) with an alleged “sabotage” against its facilities. The fact is that several people (the exact number remains unknown) died because of the failure in the service. Despite all of this, Motta favored the “attack” over the HCU’s tragedy and said that it was ordered from abroad “to spark chaos.” He didn’t explain why all the power plants were out of service. While trying to investigate about this case, journalists Beatriz Adrián from Caracol and Osmary Hernández from CNNE were also detained and mistreated by SEBIN officers, but in Plaza Venezuela. Their vehicles were searched and their belongings were taken. Beatriz Adrián managed to report this detention in real time because she was broadcasting live for Colombia and that probably sped up her release.

Saturday’s “accomplishments”

Last Saturday, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza made important efforts toward exhibiting as an accomplishment that most of Lima Group’s member countries rectified their stance about the statement’s clause regarding the territorial controversy between Venezuela and Guyana, without clarifying that this rectification doesn’t change the declaration of Nicolás’s government as illegitimate. Arreaza gave another 48 hours for Paraguay and Canada to join the rectification. Later, Nicolás held a meeting in Miraflores with representatives from the UN, UNICEF, the FAO, the UNDP, the World Health Organization and the International Organization for Migration to say that Venezuela had implemented all the objectives, policies and actions agreed at the UN in the 2030 Agenda, amidst hyperinflation and a complex humanitarian crisis. Perhaps he just wanted someone to treat him like a president.

Peter’s lathering

According to Nicolás, last year he asked UN Secretary General António Guterres for help to organize a negotiation for peace, “to put an end to the drama, to the useless, barren and unnecessary conflict.” Peter Grohmann, resident coordinator of the United Nations System, reminded Nicolás that Venezuela’s in a complicated juncture and demanded information to plan and monitor the process and thus be able to evaluate how the aid that the country has received can reach people more efficiently, emphasizing that the possibility of receiving other aids is tied to the articulation with different sectors of civil society. Grohmann also reminded him of the importance of inviting the High Commissioner for Human Rights and granting access to the mission of the International Labour Organization. Nicolás wanted to joke about the Vuelta a la Patria plan, with the help of the UN to overcome corruption and even dared to complain that “the world had allowed the emergence of a Hitler, a Mussolini, a Francisco Franco.” As the sole achievement, he mentioned the arrival of 2,000 Cuban “doctors” for the Barrio Adentro program.

It was a weekend of important expressions of support from the international community to the National Assembly, which demands the collective action of the lawmakers.

Without international support, Nicolás is trying to build a veil of legitimacy around his vulnerable de facto government. Never before has chavismo carried out any actions or opened any investigations against SEBIN officers who, for years, have arbitrarily detained opposition leaders, Twitter users and dissident citizens, so the only thing that’s strange about this case is Juan Guaidó’s swift release. Theories abound on social networks, take a pick.

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