Venezuela: Fears for Juan Guaidó as deputy seized

The newspaper also said Trump is not comfortable with increased escalation in Venezuela, due to the risk it poses in creating a proxy fight with Russian Federation, which arms Maduro's government.

The president also accused the former spy chief of spreading false rumors about Padrino and Moreno's intent to join the opposition, both considered "honorable patriots" by Maduro.

"From the moment of the arrest, they have violated the deputy's rights".

He wrote on Twitter: "The regime kidnapped the first vice president of the National Assembly".

On Tuesday, Venezuela's pro-Maduro Constituent Assembly ruled to strip Mr Zambrano and six other opposition politicians of their parliamentary immunity to allow their future prosecution.

The uptick in regime repression "may be a precursor" to targeting Guaido himself, said Latin American analyst Risa Grais-Targow of Eurasia Group.

Edgar Zambrano, vice-president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly said on Twitter that agents from the SEBIN intelligence agency were using a tow truck to drag his vehicle, with him inside, to one of their Caracas bases. "We, democrats, remain on our feet to fight".

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Furthermore, White House officials said that although the president had an affinity for Juan Guaido, he has also "wondered aloud" about how much the USA really knows about him, and questioned whether he is really ready to take over governing the country.

Last week, Leopoldo Lopez - Guaido's political mentor - moved into Spain's diplomatic residence after escaping house arrest to appear alongside Guaido during his call for the military to rise up.

Mr Guaido invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency in January, denouncing Mr Maduro's rule as illegitimate after he secured re-election a year ago in a vote widely viewed as fraudulent.

He has since been recognised as interim president by more than 50 countries as he steps up the pressure to oust president Maduro, whom he considers illegitimate after 2018 elections widely seen as fraudulent.

But through months of crisis, Maduro - supported by China, Russia and his armed forces - has stood firm.

Separately on Friday, Venezuela announced it was re-opening its land border with Brazil after Maduro ordered it shut in February, frustrating Guaido's attempt to bring stockpiled mostly-US humanitarian aid across the border.

The United Nations says a quarter of its 30 million population are in urgent need of aid.

  • Sonia Alvarado