“We didn’t know what was going to happen to us.”
Univision reporter Jorge Ramos’ public sparring last May with President Donald Trump earned him notoriety as a staunch critic of the Trump administration. During the 2016 presidential campaign, the veteran journalist even went as far as to compare the president to a dictator.
This week, the famed reporter got a first hand glimpse into how real dictators operate when Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro detained him and his crew in the presidential palace. Ramos initially thought he would be able to freely question the embattled president in a one-on-one interview. After Maduro was shown footage of Venezuelan children eating out of a garbage truck, Ramos learned how wrong he was.
A few hours later, reporters were finally allowed to leave the palace, giving Ramos a chance to recount the experience on camera.
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“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.”
Not only was the reporter unable to get his belongings returned to him, but footage from the interview was confiscated as well.
“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.
“I think we’ll never have that interview again. They don’t want the world to see what we do,” he said.
The incident made international headlines after Univision alerted the US State Department and tweeted out the news. Assistant Secretary of State Kimberly Breier demanded the journalists’ immediate release, warning the Venezuelan president that, “the world is watching”.
The saga is the latest in a string of scandals plaguing Maduro. An economic crisis resulting in widespread poverty and hunger has put into question Maduro’s hold on the socialist Latin American nation he governs. In response, the United States and many other countries have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the rightful president. Maduro retaliated by cutting off diplomatic ties with neighboring countries and expelled US diplomats from Venezuela.
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