Univision reporter Jorge Ramos described in detail his brief detainment at Venezuela’s Presidential Palace on Monday, uploading a video to Facebook telling followers exactly how it went down.
“They took me into a security room, with producer Maria Guzman and they asked for our cellphones. I didn’t want to give them my cellphone. So they turned off the light of the room and a group of agents came in,” Ramos said. “They took forcefully my backpack, my cellphone, they did the same thing with Maria’s, and they forced us to give them our pass codes for the cellphones. We didn’t know what was going to happen to us.”
Ramos described how his interview with the country’s embattled president, Nicolás Maduro, went off the rails after the journalists showed him footage of Venezuelan kids eating food out of a garbage truck.
“He just couldn’t stand it. He didn’t want to continue the interview. He tried to close my iPad where I showed him the video and then he said the interview was over,” Ramos said, who added that his camera equipment and footage were confiscated and it seemed unlikely he would ever get them back.
“I think we’ll never have that interview again. They don’t want the world to see what we do,” he said.
The Ramos story ignited a minor international incident on Monday after Univision revealed in a tweet that their marquee reporter had been detained in Venezuela. Before his phone was seized, Ramos had been able to dial out to his bosses at Univision who then alerted the U.S. State Department, which promptly demanded their immediate release.
“.@StateDept has received word the journalist @jorgeramosnews and his team are being held against their will at Miraflores Palace by Nicolas Maduro. We insist on their immediate release; the world is watching. #Venezuela,” tweeted assistant secretary of state Kimberly Breier.
As poverty, hunger, disease and inflation have all spikes in recent months, Maduro’s position as president of Venezuela has become increasingly shaky. The United States as well as several other nations have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the nation’s rightful president. Maduro has responded by throwing out U.S. diplomats and breaking relations neighbors like Colombia who have aligned themselves with the U.S. and Guaidó.