- Congressman Caro was previously jailed and later freed in ’18
- Opposition is calling for a major protest on Labor Day
Venezuelan police arrested a close ally of National Assembly President Juan Guaido on Friday morning, ahead of further anti-government demonstrations planned for May 1, according to fellow opposition lawmakers and activists.
Legislator Gilber Caro, 45, a member of Guaido’s Popular Will party, was detained by intelligence officials while eating in eastern Caracas, congresswoman Adriana Pichardo told broadcaster NTN24. When asked why he was apprehended, Pichardo replied, “We don’t have the slightest idea.” Caro was previously jailed on charges of treason and weapons theft.
The latest arrest comes as Guaido, who says he’s the country’s rightful leader, is crisscrossing the nation calling on his countrymen to take to the streets against President Nicolas Maduro on May 1. Since January, the 35-year-old lawmaker has led a drive to unseat Maduro, staging major protests and rallying world leaders to isolate the ruling socialists, as he attempts to invoke a constitutional provision to launch an interim government.
The U.S. and some 50 nations have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful head of state, but Maduro is backed by China and Russia and has maintained the loyalty of the military and nation’s crucial security apparatus. Facing crippling sanctions and dwindling public support, the regime has ratcheted up pressure on its chief rival and those close to him.
Last month, the National Constituent Assembly, the legislative body stacked with Maduro loyalists, stripped Guaido of his parliamentary immunity, because he defied a travel ban to tour Latin American countries that support regime change in Venezuela. In March, intelligence police arrested Roberto Marrero, Guaido’s chief of staff, accusing him leading a “terrorist cell.’’