By Laura Gamba
BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) – Venezuelan authorities arrested the uncle of opposition leader Juan Guaido after he arrived at Caracas International Airport.
The number two Venezuelan leader and socialist party chief Diosdado Cabello reported Wednesday that Juan Jose Marquez was arrested for allegedly transporting chemical explosives and undeclared bulletproof vests.
"He was carrying tactical flashlights that contained chemicals of an explosive nature, presumably synthetic C4 explosive in the battery compartment. Here it is, this is not a lie," Cabello said as he displayed pictures of a bulletproof vest and explosive material he claimed belonged to Marquez on his weekly television program.
Marquez was traveling with Guaido from Portugal to Venezuela and disappeared Tuesday after being detained by authorities
Guaido accused President Nicolas Maduro of using his uncle to intimidate his family, as he returned from an international tour rallying support to pressure Maduro to leave office
"I hold you responsible, usurper Nicolas Maduro, and each one of your minions in Maiquetia for what happens to Juan Jose Marquez, a brave and honest man who knows better than anyone the value of this fight," he tweeted Wednesday.
U.S. Acting assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Michael Kozak, denounced Marquez's disappearance.
“Kidnapping interim president @JGuaido’s relatives only demonstrates that the dictatorship is weak and desperate,” Kozak tweeted. “We demand the immediate release of Juan José Márquez unharmed. #Democracy cannot be intimidated, this must stop!”
Cabello tried to minimize the issue. "He is detained, not forcibly disappeared, he is detained for bringing prohibited substances onto a flight," he said. "Tomorrow, they will probably say we made this up and he is a little saint. He is Juanito's uncle, you have to let him go. No, a thousand times no.”
Marquez is not the first person close to Guaido who has been arrested. His chief of staff, Roberto Marrero, was detained last year and remains in prison.