By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- The increasingly embattled government of President Nicolas Maduro has detained and voided the passport of Henrique Capriles, governor of Miranda state and opposition leader, as Capriles was leaving for a meeting in the United Nations.
Capriles, who is part Jewish, was subjected to a Kafkaesque ordeal only days after Maduro likened the heckling against officials of his government to the suffering endured by the Jews during the Holocaust, saying “nosotros somos los nuevos judios," a comment that was rejected by the Organization of American States as “twisted”.
No one replied when Capriles said “buenas” (good afternoon) to an office full of airport officials.
Seconds later, the reply he got was “Your suitcase has to pass through here!” from a a female official, yelling at him in the midst of the broadcast.
Capriles live-streamed parts of his odyssey on the Twitter application Periscope. Bad internet (Venezuela has the slowest connection speeds in the hemisphere) resulted in stop-and-go, shaky video.
“Detained in the Maiquetia Airport,” Capriles says into the camera. “I have been informed that my passport has been annulled. You know that we are going to the United Nations. I am in the company of police officers but I don’t know who they are.”
Later, the governor can be seen telling officials inside an office: “You can go ahead and void my passport, but I don’t want to see anything else on it. Then you later show it on TV."
State television programming consists almost entirely of attacks against opposition politicians such as Capriles and propaganda extolling the government of Maduro.
“I respect people who work in offices, but I have no respect for politicking,” a defiant Capriles, his voice rising, says later.
This is Venezuela, six weeks into street protests against Maduro that have resulted in at least 43 dead, thousands arrested and scores injured, according to the Attorney General’s Office and local NGOs.
Less than a month ago Capriles was barred by the Maduro administration from running for elected office for the next 15 years.Click Here to Watch on Periscope