Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos and his network colleagues have been released after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro detained them Monday night because he “did not like their questions,” Daniel Coronell, the president of news for Univision in the U.S., tweeted Monday evening.
About two hours after Coronell’s initial tweet, Coronell said he had spoken with Ramos, one of the most prominent news anchors on Spanish-language television in the United States.
“He and the other team members were released,” Coronell tweeted. “The equipment and the material of the interview that he dislikedwere confiscated.”
Ramos, speaking live from Caracas Monday night on the telephone and broadcast on Univision, told viewers: “About 17 minutes into the interview, he (Maduro) didn´t like the questions we were asking about the lack of democracy in Venezuela, about tortures to political prisoners, about the humanitarian crisis and he left the interview after I showed him a group of young people collecting food from a trash can on the street.”
Ramos then said Jorge Rodriguez, Maduro’s communications minister, “told us that the interview was not authorized and all our equipment was confiscated. We have nothing. They kept the cameras, all our equipment.”
“They have the interview. They took all our cellphones, including one that isn’t mine.
“... After that they kept us separated for two and a half hours interrogating us,” Ramos said. “They put us in a room and turned off the lights. They took our cellphones, they took our backpack, they kept many of our personal belongings and we have just arrived to the hotel.”
Earlier in the evening, Coronell, in a tweet, said the group had been “arbitrarily detained” at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, the presidential palace in the country’s capital. Maduro resides at the palace.
On the Monday evening broadcast, Univision news anchor Patricia Janiot said on the air that Ramos and his colleagues were detained because “apparently Nicolás Maduro was bothered by the questions Jorge Ramos asked him.”
Rodriguez, the communications minister, had told Univision it was not true that the journalists were being detained, according to Janiot.
“According to Rodriguez, Jorge Ramos insulted Maduro and that’s why they took that decision,’’ Janiot said on the air. “Rodriguez said Jorge Ramos called Maduro murderer and dictator several times.”
Univision did not respond to interview requests.
The crisis in Venezuela escalated over the weekend when pro-Maduro forces, including the military, police and gangs, blocked shipments of humanitarian aid from crossing into the country from Colombia. At least four people were killed and hundreds more were injured.
The unrest began in late January, when Juan Guaidó challenged Maduro’s authority, saying it was his constitutional duty, as head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, to become the interim president of Venezuela and call for new elections. Maduro says he was elected president and will run the country, which has been destroyed economically, through 2025.