Protests held across Venezuela, three foreign journalists detained

Opposition supporters demonstrate in Caracas on Jan. 30, 2019, to demand an end to the country's crisis and to support interim President Juan Guaido, the president of the Venezuelan Parliament. [EFE-EPA/Cristian Hernandez]

The head of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled parliament, Juan Guaidó, who proclaimed himself interim president last week, said on Wednesday (30 January) more than 5,000 brief protests were staged around the country to demand an end to what they call the “usurpation of power” by President Nicolas Maduro. EURACTIV’s partner efe-epa reports.

The multi-location demonstration was called on Sunday by Guaidó, who asked opposition supporters to act peacefully and refrain from blocking roadways.

“They protested at more than 5,000 places on the national level not only to reject the crisis we’re experiencing throughout Venezuela, not only because it’s going badly for us as citizens, but for the sake of the future,” Guaidó told reporters during one of the demonstrations in Caracas.

He provided no details about the number of people participating in the protests, which were staged around the country between noon and 2 pm.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump reiterated his full backing for Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim head of state.

Guaidó, the speaker of Venezuela’s National Assembly (unicameral legislature), proclaimed himself acting president on 23 January, dismissing the leftist President Maduro as a usurper.

Since Guaidó told a group of supporters last week that he was assuming the powers of the presidency, some 30 countries have formally recognised him as acting head of state, including the United States, Canada, Brazil and Colombia.

“I appreciate the phone call from the president of the United States, Donald Trump, who reiterated his complete support for our democratic work, commitment to humanitarian aid and his administration’s recognition for our (interim) presidency,” Guaidó wrote on Twitter.

In Mexico, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador rejected on Wednesday a proposal by visiting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to participate in an international contact group on the Venezuelan crisis.

In a joint appearance before the media, Lopez Obrador insisted that “dialogue is the first step, things cannot be imposed, first, the parties have to begin a dialogue” in Venezuela.

“We don’t want foreigners to intervene in issues that are the responsibility of Mexicans, and so we must also be very cautious not to intervene. So that others don’t intervene,” the Mexican leader said.

Three foreign journalists were detained in Venezuela this week.

Colombian photojournalist Leonardo Munoz, working for EFE, was detained by Venezuelan authorities along with two other colleagues, one Spaniard and one Colombian.

Munoz, Spain’s Gonzalo Dominguez Loeda and Colombia’s Mauren Barriga Vargas,  arrived in Caracas from Bogota and were on assignment for EFE to cover the Venezuelan crisis.

Venezuela’s National Intelligence Service (Sebin) members arrived at the agency’s office on Wednesday night and arrested Loeda and Barriga Vargas. They said that Munoz, who had been considered missing, was detained by the Military Counterintelligence Directorate (DGCIM), according to EFE journalists in Caracas.

EU says voice of Venezuelan people ‘cannot be ignored’, calls for free and fair election

The European Union said Wednesday (23 January) that the voice of the Venezuelan people “cannot be ignored” and called for “free and credible elections” after the South American country’s parliament leader declared himself interim president on Wednesday (23 January).

EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini was asked in Bucharest on Thursday about the arrested journalists but didn’t give an answer on substance.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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