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story.lead_photo.caption Opposition leader Juan Guaido waves to supporters during a rally at Bolivar Plaza in Chacao, a municipality of Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. Guaido returned home from a tour of nations that back his effort to oust socialist leader Nicolas Maduro. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

CARACAS, Venezuela — An ally of President Nicols Maduro said Wednesday that officials have detained a close relative of opposition leader Juan Guaid, accusing the uncle of trying to smuggle "dangerous materials" into Venezuela. 
Guaid accused Maduro of using his uncle, Juan José Mrquez, as a means of threatening him as he returns from an international tour rallying support to oust the socialist leader. 
"I hold you responsible, usurper Nicols Maduro, and each one of your minions in Maiqueta for what happens to Juan José Mrquez," Guaid said, calling his uncle an "honest and brave man."
Socialist party chief Diosdado Cabello, a Maduro ally, said in his weekly TV program Wednesday night that Guaid's uncle had been detained for allegedly carrying small amounts of C-4 explosives and two bullet-proof jackets.
Guaid and his uncle arrived together a day earlier on an international flight from Portugal. Guaid left the airport outside Caracas amid a chaotic scene, and later reported that officials had held back his uncle.
The return ended a three-week international trip through Europe, Canada and the United States, including a White House meeting with President Donald Trump. 
Other relatives of Mrquez said he was not politically active, but had traveled with Guaid because he was concerned for his nephew's safety. 
The tour was focused on rebuilding support for the opposition's year-long campaign to oust Maduro and end two decades of socialist rule that critics blame for the country's social and economic crisis. 
Cabello alleged Mrquez was carrying flashlights that contained synthetic C-4 explosive in the battery compartment and five perfume refill capsules that also contained the explosive material.
Cabello presented photos of the alleged bullet-proof jackets and explosive material. He also accused Mrquez of having a contact in his phone of an alleged U.S. secret service agent "named Charles." 
"He was wearing his bullet-proof vest," Cabello said. "He didn't declare them." 

 

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