CARACAS – A leading Venezuelan opposition party said a group of armed men with their faces covered raided its headquarters late Friday, taking cellphones, computers and ID cards from staffers and raising tensions the night before a nationwide protest against President Nicolás Maduro.
Popular Will members said Juan Guaidó, who belongs to the party, was not inside at the time. They said they believe the armed men were some kind of government or security officers, though they didn’t identify themselves or show a court order.
Guaidó arrived at the 18th-floor office in Caracas minutes later and called for an end to Maduro's “dictatorship,” saying the men who broke into the office were “cowards” for covering their faces and not identifying themselves.
“What they were looking for was to intimidate us,” Guaidó said “They didn’t succeed. On the contrary, here we are stronger than ever.”
Guaidó launched a campaign this year as head of the National Assembly to oust Maduro, backed by the U.S. and more than 50 other nations, who accuse the socialist leader of claiming victory in a sham election.
The opposition has called Venezuelans into the street Saturday, attempting to re-energize the country against Maduro, while the socialist party is also urging supporters to join its own demonstrations.
Maduro, who did not comment on Friday’s incident, accuses the White House of leading a campaign to overthrow him and install Guaidó’s puppet government to exploit Venezuela’s vast oil wealth.