Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president said Thursday that police had descended on his home here in the capital, the latest provocation in the fight for power in this embattled country.
Juan Guaido, a federal congressman whose claim to the interim presidency has been backed by the United States and other nations, was giving a speech when he told listeners that a police “special action” unit had arrived at his home in the capital and was asking for his wife, Fabiana.
His wife, however, was accompanying him at the speech site at a university here. But Guaido said his 20-month-old daughter was at the residence when the police arrived.
He said neighbors in the middle-class neighborhood rushed to the high-rise apartment building where he lives after they heard what was happening and banged on pots and pans until the officers left.
In brief comments, Guaido warned authorities not to intimidate his family.
“I hold you responsible for anything that might happen to my baby,” the 35-year-old lawmaker said as his wife stood beside him.
He said he was headed to his home after a 40-minute address outlining an economic plan for Venezuela, which has been suffering from hyperinflation, food shortages and chaotic leadership — and currently has dueling governments.
A commander of Venezuela’s national police said in a Twitter message that it was “totally FALSE” that a police “special action” unit went to Guaido’s home seeking out his family.
The Trump administration has warned Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of “serious consequences” should any harm come to Guaido, who heads the country’s congress, or National Assembly — which Maduro’s administration calls illegitimate.
On Jan. 23, Guaido said he was assuming interim leadership of the country and claimed that Maduro’s presidency was legally terminated.
Guaido has called for a transitional government and new national elections, demands that the Trump administration has backed. The Maduro administration calls Guaido the head of a U.S.-backed coup operation designed to remove the country’s socialist government and steal Venezuela’s petroleum wealth.
Meanwhile, the Venezuelan government has stepped up efforts to quash news coverage of an opposition movement to overthrow Maduro, arresting or expelling at least 13 journalists in the last 10 days in moves that have drawn protests from the European Union, the Washington Post reported.
Mogollon is a special correspondent. Times staff writer Patrick McDonnell contributed to this report.