Venezuelan authorities have arrested National Assembly Vice President Edgar Zambrano, accusing him of conspiracy and treason for his role in the April 30 attempted military putsch.
Zambrano was one of the first politicians on the scene to support self-proclaimed “Interim President” Juan Guaido and fugitive opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez in their call for a military uprising to oust the Maduro government.
The Democratic Action lawmaker was detained around 18.30 Wednesday evening by the Bolivarian National Intelligence Services (SEBIN) upon leaving his party’s headquarters in La Florida district of Caracas.
Following his alleged refusal to get out of his car, officers were forced to use a tow truck to take Zambrano to the Helicoide detention facility, where it is believed he continues to be held. Authorities claim he was leaving the party offices with over US $9,000 in his pocket.
Zambrano had had his parliamentary immunity from prosecution revoked the day before by the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) following a Supreme Court ruling. Apart from treason and conspiracy, Zambrano is also charged with civil rebellion, usurpation of responsibilities, criminal association, public instigation to disobey the laws, and “continued hatred.”
Edgar Zambrano arrives at the Altamira Overpass early April 30, greeting Leopoldo Lopez and Juan Guaido.
Speaking minutes after the arrest on his live TV program, ANC President Diosdado Cabello confirmed the detention.
“One of the principal conspirators of the coup has just been arrested (…) [Zambrano and his colleagues] will have to answer before the courts (…) There will be justice,” Cabello told viewers.
Self-declared “Interim President” and President of the National Assembly Juan Guaido was also quick to respond, calling the arrest “a kidnapping” aimed at dismantling the National Assembly’s leadership. Venezuela’s National Assembly has been in contempt in court since 2016 following its refusal to adhere to a Supreme Court order to disincorporate three deputies under investigation for electoral fraud.
On Tuesday, six other opposition deputies had their parliamentary immunity lifted by the ANC for their alleged role in the coup. On Wednesday, lawmakers Freddy Superlano (Barinas State), Juan Mejia (Miranda State) and Sergio Vergara (Tachira State) were added to the list. All three belong to Guaido’s and Lopez’s far right Popular Will party. AN President Juan Guaido also had his immunity revoked in April, with the total now reaching eleven opposition leaders open to potential criminal charges.
Zambrano’s arrest marks the first legal action taken following the April 30 failed coup. Some of those accused have decided to flee, with Richard Blanco taking refuge in the Argentinian embassy and Marianela Magallanes Lopez and Americo de Grazia in the Italian one. Leopoldo Lopez also chose to evade potential new charges against him on April 30, moving into the Spanish ambassador’s residence.