U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has said the United States 'will not tolerate' the continued detention of Roberto Marrero, chief of staff of Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Marrero was arrested Thursday during a pre-dawn raid on his home. Venezuelan Interior Minister Nestor Reverol explained the arrest, saying a 'large number of weapons' were found in Marrero's house.
Pence made the statement in an op-ed piece for the Miami Herald Friday. He warned that the United States would not tolerate Marrero's detention or intimidation of the Guaido government, which the U.S. recognizes as the legitimate government of Venezuela.
Pence also called out Cuba, Russia, and China for supporting the administration of embattled president Nicolas Maduro and profiting from it.
He said Cuba is allowing its military and intelligence services to train, support, and equip Venezuela's secret police; Russia vetoed a resolution at the United Nations calling for unfettered aid to Venezuela; and China is refusing to grant a visa to economist Ricardo Hausmann to attend the Inter-American Development Bank's annual meeting, which it is hosting.
Pence called Maduro a 'corrupt dictator' and said those nations are holding Venezuela back in its 'steady march towards freedom.'
'Nicolas Maduro must go,' he said.
Thursday, Venezuela's interior minister accused the detained Marrero of being part of a 'terrorist cell' planning attacks on top politicians.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has demanded Marrero's immediate release and said those behind the arrest will be held accountable.
Juan Guaido is the head of the National Assembly and declared himself interim president. He used his constitutional authority to call Nicolas Maduro's presidency illegitimate, saying he was reelected in a fraudulent vote.
The United States and about 50 other countries recognize Guaido as the real president.
President Donald Trump has said all options are on the table for Venezuela but has not said under what circumstances he might consider using U.S. military force.
A collapse in world energy prices, corruption and failed socialist policies have destroyed oil-rich Venezuela's economy.
Food and medicine are scarce, and more than 3 million Venezuelans have fled the country.