The Venezuelan government briefly detained Jorge Ramos, the star Spanish-language television journalist, during an interview with the country’s embattled president, Nicolas Maduro. Ramos and the Univision News television crew accompanying him were subsequently released.
The journalists were detained nearly three hours at Venezuela’s presidential palace after Maduro bristled over Ramos’ questions, a Univision News representative said late Monday.
“They have now been released, but their equipment and interview material has been confiscated,” Univision News spokesman Jose Zamora said in an email to The Times. “They will be deported from Venezuela in the morning. It has been a clear attack against freedom of the press.”
Several hours earlier, Kimberly Breier, an assistant secretary at the U.S. State Department, said on Twitter that the agency had “received word the journalist Jorge Ramos and his team are being held against their will at Miraflores Palace by Nicolas Maduro. We insist on their immediate release; the world is watching.”
Ramos, 60, who is known for his crusading style, is the lead anchor for Univision News. The native of Mexico, who became a U.S. citizen in 2008, generated huge headlines when he was kicked out of a Donald Trump political event in Iowa in 2015.
After that dust-up, Ramos said in several TV interviews that he had not been subjected to such treatment even in Cuba and Venezuela.
People learned of the incident when Univision News announced on Twitter early Monday evening that Ramos, along with his TV production crew, was being “arbitrarily detained at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas. They were interviewing Nicolas Maduro but he didn’t like the questions.”
Unlike most American journalists who strive not to take sides in the issues they cover, Ramos is something of an activist when it comes to immigration issues in the U.S. He has insisted that the U.S. government’s treatment of immigrants living in the country illegally is a moral issue, and has become an unapologetic proponent of immigration reform.
“Our position is clearly pro-Latino or pro-immigrant,” Ramos told The Times in a 2013 interview. “We are simply being the voice of those who don’t have a voice.”
It’s unclear when Ramos and his news team traveled to Venezuela.
Ramos on Sunday posted an interview clip from his Sunday newsmagazine show, “Al Punto,” in which he interviewed a woman in El Salvador. The clip indicated that Ramos was in the studio, which is based in the Miami area, where he is also a resident.
He also sent several messages about the Netflix movie “Roma,” which was up for best picture at the 91st Academy Awards but lost out to “Green Book.” “Roma” director Alfonso Cuarón of Mexico won top honors for directing and cinematography for the film.
Ramos’ career took off after he worked as a reporter at Univision’s flagship station, KMEX-TV Channel 34 in Los Angeles. He then was tapped, at the age of 28, to be Univision’s news anchor for the entire network.