Rocío San Miguel: Venezuelan rights activist detained over alleged plot

Rocío San Miguel: Venezuelan rights activist detained over alleged plot
Rocio San Miguel poses in the living room of her apartment on January 18, 2006 in Caracas, Venezuela.Getty Images

Venezuelan officials have confirmed they are holding a prominent human rights activist, Rocío San Miguel.

Ms San Miguel, a vocal critic of the government of President Nicolás Maduro, was detained on Friday and taken to an undisclosed location.

On Sunday, the prosecutor general, who is a close ally of Mr Maduro, accused Ms San Miguel of involvement in an alleged plot to kill the president.

The government has provided few details of the alleged plot.

Fifty-seven-year-old Rocío San Miguel is an expert on defence issues who leads the Control Ciudadano NGO, which advocates civilian oversight of Venezuela’s armed forces.

Rights activists had sounded the alarm on Friday, when Ms San Miguel was detained by intelligence agents at Simón Bolívar international airport, near the capital, Caracas.

Her lawyer said she had not been informed where Ms San Miguel was being held or what, if anything, she had been charged with.

It took two days for Prosecutor-General Tarek William Saab to confirm her arrest.

Mr Saab wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that a warrant had been issued for her arrest for being allegedly linked to “a conspiracy and the attempted magnicide known as ‘White Armband'”.

He said that the aim of the “conspiracy” had been to kill President Maduro and other high-ranking officials, as well as attacking several military units in the city of San Cristóbal.

Ms San Miguel’s arrest comes just weeks after 36 government critics were rounded up.

They, too, were accused of having links to alleged plots to kill President Maduro.

The wave of detentions comes as the government is preparing to announce the date of the presidential election, which is due to be held later this year.

The government had agreed in talks held in Barbados with opposition representatives to lay the groundwork for the election to be held freely and fairly.

But rights groups say that rather than progress, there have been setbacks since the agreement.

Most notably, a ban which prevents the main opposition candidate, María Corina Machado, from running for office was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Members of her Vente Venezuela party are among those who have been accused of being part of the alleged plot against Mr Maduro.

Ms Machado has in the past denounced the arrests as part of a campaign aimed at intimidating her and suppressing any opposition to Mr Maduro, who has been in power since 2013.

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By David Ryckman