Venezuelan intelligence service arrests guaido’s associates

In the escalating power struggle in venezuela, security forces loyal to the government are taking action against close associates of the self-proclaimed interim president juan guaido.

On thursday, agents of the sebin secret service arrested guaido’s bureau chief roberto marrero, according to the opposition. "They know they can’t kidnap the interim president of the republic, so they kidnapped staff, deputies. But that will not stop us," guaido said.

Intelligence officials searched his and marrero’s homes early this morning, said the leader of the opposition voluntad popular party, sergio vergara. His driver has also been arrested. In the house of marrero, the agents had placed two rifles and a grenade.

For weeks, head of state nicolas maduro and opposition leader guaido have been engaged in a bitter power struggle. Although many countries, mainly in the west, have already recognized guaido as a legitimate interim president, he has not yet been able to establish a real position of power in venezuela itself.

"Whether there is a risk that they will come after me? Of course, but it’s obvious that they don’t dare to do that," guaido said on thursday. "Why are they not looking for me? Because of massive international support."

The U.S. Criticized the intelligence operation. "The united states condemns the raids by maduro’s security forces and the arrest of roberto marrero, buro chief of interim president guaido," u.S. Secretary of state mike pompeo wrote on twitter. "We demand his immediate release. We will hold those involved responsible."

US security adviser john bolton threatened maduro’s socialist government with consequences. "Maduro has committed another gross error," he wrote on twitter. "The illegitimate arrest of roberto marrero will not remain without response."

The office of UN human rights commissioner michelle bachelet called on the government to follow the legal process and immediately disclose the whereabouts of marrero. The so-called lima group, made up of a number of latin american countries and canada, protested against the arrest of the buro chief. "We demand an end to the attacks on venezuelan democrats and to the arbitrary arrests and torture in venezuela," a joint statement read.

Guaido had recently announced that he would mobilize his supporters throughout the country and march on the capital, caracas. "The regime is on the retreat," he said on thursday. "We are dealing with a very weak regime that no longer governs, that no longer has any authority."