Jorge Ramos says he and his crew were detained while interviewing Venezuela's Maduro

By Camilo Montoya-Galvez

/ CBS News

Clashes over aid escalate in Venezuela

Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, one of the most well-known journalists in Spanish-language television in the U.S., said he and his crew were detained by the Venezuelan government Monday night after their interview with the country's embattled President Nicolás Maduro was abruptly ended.

Calling into a Univision special report, Ramos said in Spanish he and five other employees of the American Spanish-language TV network had been freed after being arbitrarily detained by guards at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas for over two hours.

"This is a complete violation of the freedom of expression, a violation of human rights, a violation of the rights of all journalists," Ramos told his colleague and fellow anchor Patricia Janiot. "They think the interview is theirs and not ours. And they are robbing us of our work."

Jorge Ramos Getty

Ramos said 17 minutes into the interview at the palace, he showed Maduro a video of Venezuelan youths eating from a garbage truck. After displaying the video, the Univision anchor said Maduro walked off the interview and summoned his communications minister, who told Ramos the interview had not been authorized. For years, Venezuelans have been grappling with a collapsing economy and widespread food and medicine shortages.

Venezuelan officials confiscated his and his crew's cellphones, equipment and the material of the interview, according to Ramos. He said they were also forced to give up the passwords for their cellphones and were threatened with being taken to another location to be interrogated.

"If this is happening to foreign journalists, imagine what happens to Venezuelans," Ramos told Janiot.

Kimberly Breier, assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, said the State Department welcomed the released of Ramos and his colleagues.

"News of their detention & confiscation of their equipment by Maduro's henchmen are the latest reminder that press freedom in #Venezuela applies only to those who are willing to spread the regime's lies," Breier tweeted Monday night.

Since he became Univision's chief anchor in 1987, Ramos and his newscast have become a TV staple in Hispanic households in the U.S. He gained notoriety in the English-language press when he was ejected from a Iowa campaign event in 2015 after sparing with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump over immigration.

After being freed, Ramos said he and his crew returned to their hotel, which he noted is still being supervised by Venezuelan police as of late Monday night. Ramos said they are scheduled to depart Venezuela for Miami on Tuesday at noon.

First published on February 25, 2019 / 11:15 PM

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