CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — An ally of President Nicolás Maduro said Wednesday that officials have detained a close relative of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, accusing the uncle of trying to smuggle “dangerous materials” into Venezuela.
Guaidó accused Maduro of using his uncle, Juan José Márquez, as a means of threatening him as he returns from an international tour rallying support to oust the socialist leader.
“I hold you responsible, usurper Nicolás Maduro, and each one of your minions in Maiquetía for what happens to Juan José Márquez,” Guaidó said, calling his uncle an “honest and brave man.”
Socialist party chief Diosdado Cabello, a Maduro ally, said in his weekly TV program Wednesday night that Guaidó’s uncle had been detained for allegedly carrying small amounts of C-4 explosives and two bullet-proof jackets.
Guaidó and his uncle arrived together a day earlier on an international flight from Portugal. Guaidó left the airport outside Caracas amid a chaotic scene, and later reported that officials had held back his uncle.
The return ended a three-week international trip through Europe, Canada and the United States, including a White House meeting with President Donald Trump.
Other relatives of Márquez said he was not politically active, but had traveled with Guaidó because he was concerned for his nephew’s safety.
The tour was focused on rebuilding support for the opposition’s year-long campaign to oust Maduro and end two decades of socialist rule that critics blame for the country’s social and economic crisis.
Cabello alleged Márquez was carrying flashlights that contained synthetic C-4 explosive in the battery compartment and five perfume refill capsules that also contained the explosive material.
Cabello presented photos of the alleged bullet-proof jackets and explosive material. He also accused Márquez of having a contact in his phone of an alleged U.S. secret service agent “named Charles.”
“He was wearing his bullet-proof vest,” Cabello said. “He didn’t declare them.”