OAS on high alert as Vice President of opposition-held legislative detained, harassed by cops
By Carlos Camacho
CARACAS -- The Vice President of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Freddy Guevara, was detained by police for several hours and the cars in the party he was traveling in searched on the same day a slew of new U.S. sanctions against the Maduro administration were unveiled.
“We denounce once more the harassment of this dictatorship”, Guevara said in live-streaming Periscope video of the events. “Everybody be on the alert.”
Guevara was detained hours after the U.S. announced several new financial sanctions against Venezuela and Maduro’s main cash cow, state oil company PDVSA, which make it impossible for the Republic or the oil company to issue new debt or restructure existing debt.
Maduro has publicly tied the local opposition with a U.S.-led effort to topple him, of which, he says, sanctions are just a part.
Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro expressed solidarity with Guevara’s plight, tweeting: “We denounce that the SEBIN keeps lawmaker Freddy Guevara detained. We demand respect to his immunity as a lawmaker of #Venezuela.”
Being pulled over by SEBIN in Venezuela is no joke, as Almagro and Guevara surely know. Maduro has been imprisoning and harassing opposition elected officials, leaders and even rank-and-file militants and sympathizers for years now: of 77 opposition mayors in Venezuela, 40 have some sort of judicial measure against them, including imprisonment and at least two, including El Hatillo’s David Smolansky, have gone underground rather than surrender to the notorious SEBIN intelligence service.
Governors and lawmakers are not exempted from Maduro's abusing the law: Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles was arrested, his passport voided and prevented from leaving the country in the days before Maduro barred Capriles from running for office for the next 15 years.
A 15-year prohibition is considered a light sanctions nowadays for opposition politicians, with some mayors and lawmakers in prison and, reportedly, being tortured and denied medical attention, food and water.
Maduro is prone in his mind to the tit-for-tat: he imprisoned a U.S. citizen, Mormon missionary Josh Holt, days after two of Maduro's nephews were convicted of drug trafficking in New York City. Holt’s mother told LAHT in a phone interview she feared her son was being used as a pawn in order to secure the release of the two young men now known in Venezuela as “los narco sobrinos”, the narco nephews.