Juan Jose Marquez, who was traveling with Juan Guaido, was charged with smuggling explosives from Portugal.
The State Department condemned the detention of the uncle of Juan Guaido, the leader of the Venezuelan opposition, calling it politically motivated and demanding the immediate release of Juan Jose Marquez.
Marquez was detained on Tuesday on his return to Venezuela from a three-week foreign trip. His nephew Juan Guaido, recognized by the authorities of more than 50 countries as the interim President of Venezuela, accompanied him.
“The ridiculous accusations … demonstrate the growing desperation of Maduro and his corrupt associates,” state Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said. The statement said that arbitrary detentions of people for political reasons are often used as a tool to pressure the opposition from the illegitimate Maduro regime.
According to the state Department, Marquez was accused of smuggling explosives on board a plane that arrived in Caracas on a direct international flight from Portugal. Ortagus pointed out the absurdity of the charges, saying that Marquez went through a strict pre-flight inspection at Lisbon airport. TAP Air Portugal also confirmed that it was not possible to carry explosives on board the plane.
Maduro said that “there will come a day” when the Venezuelan court will issue a warrant for the arrest of Guido.
Juan Guaido said that Maduro chose a relative as a victim because the authorities are afraid to put him in jail, despite repeated threats against the opposition leader.
“They could have done it at any time last year… But they are so cowardly that they had to detain a family member,” Guaido said.