Security forces arrested the No. 2 leader of Venezuela's opposition-controlled congress Wednesday as President Nicolas Maduro's government began going after foes tied to a failed attempt to stir up a military uprising last week. National Assembly Vice President Edgar Zambrano was leaving his Democratic Action party's headquarters when he was surprised by a commando unit from the feared SEBIN intelligence agency who surrounded his car. A half hour later, the officers towed the vehicle away with the lawmaker still inside, at the same that Maduro was speaking live on state TV inaugurating an agricultural project, the AP reports. Neighbors looking on shouted "assassins" as the heavily armed agents pulled away.
The arrest was the first following the opposition's fizzled uprising that started early on April 30 outside a Caracas air base. It was led by Juan Guaido, head of the National Assembly, who is leading the US-backed effort to end what he calls Maduro's dictatorship. Zambrano, 63, was one of the first opposition leaders to answer Guaido's call for an insurrection, going to the bridge in Caracas where the opposition leader had appeared at dawn with a small cadre of soldiers ready to rebel against Maduro. Government officials had announced that Zambrano and eight other opposition lawmakers faced investigation on charges of "betraying the homeland" and "instigating an insurrection," for their roles in last week's unrest. (Read more Venezuela stories.)