EU Slams Arrest of Senior Venezuelan Opposition Figure

Juan Guaido right and Edgar Zambranoleave the congress in Caracas

Venezuelan intelligence agents detained opposition leader Juan Guaido's congressional deputy on Wednesday, using a tow truck to drag his vehicle away with him inside, prompting the USA government to warn of "consequences" if he was not released.

"If the Americans were to propose a military intervention I would probably accept it", he said in an interview with Italian daily newspaper La Stampa.

Washington said: "If he is not released immediately, there will be consequences".

Zambrano was transferred to the headquarters of the military police in Caracas's largest military complex, Fort Tiuna, the court said.

The US, the European Union and several Latin American states criticized Zambrano's arrest.

He is close to Henry Ramos, the former head of congress who has been accused of taking part in an earlier alleged conspiracy to oust Mr Maduro.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has threatened Maduro's government with a harsh response should it ever detain Guaido.

The decision to strip legislators of their immunity and to arrest Zambrano was condemned as "unconstitutional" in a statement on Thursday by the Lima Group, a regional bloc comprising Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Canada.

Intelligence agents used a tow truck to drag the vice-president of parliament, still inside his vehicle, to the notorious "Helicoide" interrogation centre in Caracas on Wednesday.




Maduro has not tried to arrest Guaido, who declared himself interim president of Venezuela in January.

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 inside Sebin headquarters.

Now, the government is chipping away at the National Assembly, the key Venezuelan institution demanding Maduro's resignation.

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.

Opposition militants and journalists gather outside the Democratic Action political party headquarters, where a sign reads in Spanish "National Executive Committee".

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".

Venezuela's Attorney General Tarek William Saab says the two days of clashes that followed Guaido's unsuccessful revolt left six people dead.

Venezuela has suffered five years of recession that has seen more than 2.7 million people flee poverty, hyperinflation, food shortages and insecurity since 2015, according to United Nations figures.

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