Top aide to Guaido accused of terrorist plot

Top aide to Guaido accused of terrorist plot

Guaido, who leads the opposition-controlled National Assembly in Caracas, has offered military members amnesty from prosecution upon their allegiance to Maduro's overthrow, according to reports.

"We hold the regime of Maduro responsible for the security of Roberto Marrero and lawmaker Sergio Vergara", said the statement signed by Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.

It said Roberto Marrero and other political prisoners must be released immediately.

He said weapons and foreign cash were found in a predawn raid on Marrero's home.

It would have been the first time the IDB - whose biggest member country is the USA - had held the event in China, which has become a major player in Latin America, pouring more than US$50 billion into Venezuela in oil-for-loans agreements over the past decade.

Maduro and Guaido both claim to be Venezuela's legitimate leader but Maduro, 56, retains the loyalty of the military brass and has control of state apparatus.

Venezuela's intelligence service had detained two of Guaido's associates, out of which one has been recognised as Marrero who had rifles and a grenade in possession at the time of arrest.

"We were able to eliminate another terrorist cell, which planned attacks with the participation of Colombian and Central American mercenaries on political leaders, top brass and judges, and acts of sabotage at strategically important facilities", he said.

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Maduro, who is the elected President of the nation, decried the events and accused the United States of plotting a coup to overthrow him by supporting Guaido.

Rodriguez played recordings he said were from WhatsApp conversations between Marrero and Guaido in which he said they discussed using Venezuelan funds blocked by U.S. sanctions to finance armed groups with the support of Colombian President Ivan Duque. Sanctions imposed so far have targeted state-run industries such as oil and gold mining, although President Donald Trump warned earlier this week that they could get a "lot tougher" in the weeks to come.

Maduro has said his government is the victim of an "economic war" led by his political adversaries and blames USA financial and oil sector sanctions for the country's situation.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said he condemned Marrero's "arbitrary arrest" and demanded his immediate release.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it regretted the decision, but bore no responsibility.

Guaido supported the sanctions designation in a Twitter post.

Since January, Venezuelan authorities have arrested over 1,000 people in connection with anti-government demonstrations, a lot of them arbitrarily, rights groups say. Several countries, including the United States, Lima Group members (excluding Mexico), as well as the Organization of American States, recognized him as president.

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