Venezuelan opposition leader accuses Nicolas Maduro of sending armed harassers

CARACAS, Venezuela, Sept. 9 (UPI) — Henrique Capriles Radonski, governor of Venezuela’s Miranda state and a key opposition leader, has accused President Nicolas Maduro of sending armed, government supporters to harass him following a religious pilgrimage.

The 4-hour incident occurred in the airport of Venezuela’s Margarita Island Wednesday night, a day before the Our Lady of the Valley religious festival.

Capriles Radonski and a group of opposition politicians held a tense standoff with Maduro supporters. Unrelated passengers were also caught up in the incident.

“Maduro sent me armed groups to Margarita Airport. Beleaguered passengers, children, everyone! Take responsibility for what happens!” Capriles Radonski said on Twitter. “Maduro wants dead here in Margarita Airport and we will not allow it! For that is why his armed group came knowing of my flight.”

The opposition leader, who almost defeated Maduro in the 2013 election, said the ordeal ended once Maduro’s supporters left the area. Videos of the incident were released on social media, but it is unclear if the Maduro supporters were indeed armed. Some Maduro supporters were not hooded.

Maduro’s government denied the allegation the supporters were ordered.

“If he continues like this he’s going to end up saying he hears voices,” Diosdado Cabello, former president of Venezuela’s parliament and a key ally to Maduro, said Thursday.

Capriles Radonski said Maduro “is bringing the country to an extreme and very dangerous situation.”

The opposition is hoping to remove Maduro from power by holding a recall referendum this year.

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