With political unrest continuing to mar Venezuela as the public disputes the contentious presidential election and winning candidate, socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro, government-backed forces have taken to the streets eliminating opposition members. The turmoil began on January 23 when Juan Guaidó, the leader of the country’s National Assembly, proclaimed himself interim president, leading to the United States and dozens of other countries recognizing him as the rightful leader.
The latest development in the politicial melee is that Cody Weddle, a 29-year-old reporter that has worked out of the Venezuelan capital of Caracas since 2014, has been detained by government forces during a raid on his residence early Wednesday morning, Fox News reports.
Weddle is a Virginia native, hailing from Meadowview in Washington County. According to his Facebook page, he attended Patrick Henry High School in Ashland, Virginia, before graduating from Virginia Tech. He is a freelance reporter who has worked for multiple news stations and newspapers, including the Miami Herald, WSLS, and ABC.
Through a post on Twitter, the U.S. State Department said they are “aware of and deeply concerned with reports that another U.S. journalist has been detained in #Venezuela by #Maduro, who prefers to stifle the truth rather than face it. Being a journalist is not a crime. We demand the journalist’s immediate release, unharmed.”
Weddle is presumed to have been targeted for his coverage of opposition leader Guaidó’s “triumphant” return to Venezuela. He stated on his Facebook page via a news article published by The Telegraph that there is “growing evidence that death squads are being used in Venezuela to prevent uprisings in working-class neighborhoods.”
The Virginia native’s detainment by Venezuelan officials comes just days after Univision journalist Jorge Ramos and his team were briefly detained after they interviewed Maduro.
This week, Maduro’s disputed government also gave German Ambassador Daniel Kriener 48 hours to leave the country after he expressed support for Guaidó.
U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton has reiterated U.S. support for a democratic transition of power in Venezuela led by Guaidó, and that the Trump Administration is “pursuing several new diplomatic and economic incentives in support of that transition.”
As President Donald Trump waits for any excuse to intervene in the South American nation, Weddle’s detainment could prod the commander in chief to act.