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Venezuelan forces kidnap opposition leader Juan Guaido’s chief of staff in raid



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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told OAS members that “the regime of former President Nicolas Maduro is illegitimate,” and he called on them to recognize National Assembly President Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela. (Jan. 24)
AP

WASHINGTON – Venezuelan intelligence officials kidnapped opposition leader Juan Guaido’s chief of staff and searched a second opposition official’s residence Thursday, Guaido and other officials said.

During an early morning raid that escalates an already tense political standoff, armed officers descended on the apartment of Roberto Marrero, a lawyer and top adviser to Guaido. The intelligence officials, who are loyal to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, planted two rifles and a grenade at the apartment and took Marrero to an undisclosed location, according to an account posted by Guaido on Twitter. 

“We don’t know his whereabouts,” Guaido said. “He must be released immediately.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo quickly denounced the arrest and called for Marrero’s release.

“The United States condemns raids by Maduro’s security services and detention of Roberto Marrero, Chief of Staff to Interim President @jguaido,” Pompeo said in his own Twitter message. “We call for his immediate release. We will hold accountable those involved.”

More: Power out, water scarce, looting: What is Trump administration’s next move in Venezuela?

Pompeo:Trump is confronting Obama’s foreign policy failures in Venezuela, other hot spots

The Trump administration has recognized Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela and labeled Maduro a corrupt usurper. The U.S. has slapped oil and gold sanctions on Venezuela and taken other steps to pressure Maduro to step down. 

The country is reeling from the political crisis, as well as rampant food and medicine shortages.

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