Guaido Calls for Fresh Protests After His Deputy's Arrest

Juan Guaido right and Edgar Zambranoleave the congress in Caracas

Juan Guaido right and Edgar Zambranoleave the congress in Caracas Credit Reuters

Activists are refusing to leave the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC which they have been occupying since President Nicolas Maduro's diplomats were expelled last month.

The US, Canada, some Latin American and European nations were quick to recognize Guaido as the new legitimate leader of Venezuela and have supported him in his attempts to oust Maduro from power.

Venezuelan intelligence agents Wednesday detained a senior leader of the opposition-dominated National Assembly, the first arrest of a lawmaker since the failed uprising against President Nicolas Maduro last week.

The US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Thursday (local time) called Venezuelan National Assembly's Vice President's detainment as an illegal act, calling for his immediate release.

In response to the first indictments on Tuesday, Guaido said in a speech that the government's "only to persecute, because they no longer govern, because they no longer have command".

An attempted uprising last week led by Guaido, recognized by the United States and other Western countries as the rightful head of state, failed to dislodge Maduro, as have a series of US sanctions against his government.

Maduro claimed General Christopher Figuera, his fired SEBIN chief, was "the one who orchestrated the coup d'etat" by contacting the group of around 30 members of the armed forces who joined Guaido's mass demonstration.

The latest regime actions ratcheted up tensions ahead of a national demonstration Guaido called for Saturday to reject measures taken by the Supreme Court against opposition lawmakers.

The 64-year-old's vehicle was surrounded outside his Democratic Action Party's headquarters before it was towed, with him still in it, to the notorious Helicoide prison, within the headquarters of Venezuela's SEBIN intelligence agency. On Wednesday, the court accused three others of the same crimes.

Earlier Wednesday, Guaido said that Zambrano had been seized by intelligence agents, accusing the government of kidnapping his aide and trying to disrupt the "normal operation" of the parliament. He was towed away in his own auto after refusing to get out, and is believed to have been transported to the notorious El Helicoide prison.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the USA has a "full-scale set of options" to resolve the Venezuelan crisis, claiming that any actions that the U.S. takes in the country would be "lawful".

The Constituent Assembly, which Maduro created to sideline the National Assembly, has said it would suspend the immunity of any lawmakers who backed the uprising.

Venezuela has suffered more than four years of recession marked by shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicine.

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