“The United States strongly condemns the recent detention of 2015 National Assembly representative Freddy Guevara and the harassment of interim President Juan Guaidó in Venezuela,” said State Department Spokesperson Ned Price at a recent press briefing.
Freddy Guevara is an ally of interim President Guaidó. He was reportedly pulled from his car on a Caracas highway on July 12 and arrested. He faces trumped-up charges of terrorism and treason.
On the same day, police surrounded the home of interim President Guaidó and reportedly entered the building without showing identification or a court order. Guaidó credited the actions of neighbors and the appearance of journalists for pressuring the police to leave without arresting him as well.
The raids were carried out as the opposition was seeking to participate in negotiations with the illegitimate Maduro regime, which has driven the once rich, dynamic, and democratic country into severe poverty and dictatorship. European Union delegates were also in Venezuela at the time of the raids to negotiate terms for a possible observation mission to local and state elections, which are scheduled for November.
The E.U.’s spokesperson for external affairs said on Twitter that the arrest of opposition leader Freddy Guevara and the “harassment of other opponents and human rights activists hinders efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis. Pluralistic civic space = key in the upcoming elex [elections].” Speaking at a conference at the Atlantic Council, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Kevin O’Reilly said the arrest and harassment raised doubts about the possibility of the upcoming elections being free and fair. The arrest “certainly makes it harder to demonstrate that Maduro and his supporters are going to allow this to be a level playing field,” he said.
That would be nothing new for the illegitimate Maduro regime. As the State Department’s latest human rights report on Venezuela notes, although Maduro’s constitutional term as president ended in January 2019, “he refused to cede control based on his claimed ‘victory’ in the 2018 presidential elections, which were widely condemned as neither free nor fair.”
U.S. State Department Spokesperson Price called the recent actions against Venezuela’s opposition leaders “reprehensible” and “incompatible with efforts to create conditions for comprehensive negotiations between the Venezuelan opposition and the Nicolas Maduro regime to resolve Venezuela’s crisis. We call for the immediate release of Congressman Guevara and urge the international community to join us in condemning his detention in the strongest terms.”