Juan Guaido says he remains a free man because the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro is afraid of the consequences of arresting him.
“Because they’re scared. Those that try to spread or generate a perception of control are the ones that don’t have it,” Guaido said in an interview with CNN.
His comments came just hours before one of his closest allies was arrested by security forces with Venezuela’s intelligence agency, known by the Spanish acronym, SEBIN. Edgar Zambrano was detained outside of his Democratic Action Party headquarters Wednesday evening, according to pro-government and opposition leaders in Venezuela.
A CNN crew in the Caracas neighborhood of La Florida witnessed Zambrano’s car being confiscated by nine hooded SEBIN officers.
Guaido tweeted that the Maduro government had “kidnapped” the vice president of the opposition controlled National Assembly.
“They are trying to break up the body that represents all Venezuelans, but they will not achieve it,” he tweeted.
The Maduro government accused Guaido, the National Assembly president, and several other opposition leaders of planning a failed coup on April 30.
In an interview from his office, Guaido was at times vague and evasive when trying to explain why his political uprising failed.
“We have offered amnesty, perhaps not enough. We have to insist. Now there is a fundamental element — the armed forces — they will have an important role not only in the transition but the reconstruction of Venezuela,” he said.
Asked if US military intervention was still an option, Guaido indicated it would be one of the final options and clarified that military action did not have to come from the United States.
“And this is the option of force — it doesn’t have to be foreign, it doesn’t have to be international. The military is very unhappy and that is the option of force, it could be local,” he said.
Guaido says he remains in close touch with the Trump administration and was in contact with US officials earlier this week.
He acknowledged that his supporters are exhausted and terrified as the Maduro government has sought to intimidate protestors. A weekend protest drew hundreds of protestors, far less than anticipated.
Guaido would not elaborate on his next moves or offer a time line on what happens next for him and his supporters.
“What is our time line? Today. But what needs to be the optimal solution for Venezuela? The one that generates the least social cost, the one that will secure stability and governance, that we will be able to tend to the humanitarian crisis and be able to produce truly free elections,” he said.
Guaido also claimed to be speaking with Russian officials about a transition to free and fair elections. He refused to disclose the nature of those conversations. The Russian government has maintained that any dialogue involving Venezuela’s future must include Maduro.
“I think that if there is anyone that has this clear today that there is no future are the Russians with Nicolas Maduro. It’s evident because they know that he can’t recuperate the oil industry because he destroyed it. He indebted it,” Guaido said.
Guaido has been recognized by more than 50 countries, including the United States, as Venezuela’s interim president.