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Venezuela deports Univision team after Maduro shown 'garbage eating' video

File photo of Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Venezuela Feb 26, 2019, 09.34 PM (IST)

Venezuela on Tuesday deported a US television network Univision news team led by anchor Jorge Ramos after they were briefly detained at the presidential palace because their line of questioning upset President Nicolas Maduro.

The six-person team was held for more than two hours in the Miraflores palace after Maduro said he did not like their questions, Ramos said at Caracas airport before boarding his flight.

Univision Producer, Ana Martinez, said she and Ramos had been body checked by Maduro's people who also turned off the lights to take away their backpacks and equipment.

Venezuela's socialist government has long had a tense relationship with Western media, which it largely considers hostile and in league with "imperialist" interests.

Short detentions and deportations have become common, especially as reporters facing delays for official permissions seek shortcuts to report in Venezuela.

Ramos, a veteran anchor born in Mexico, said he asked Maduro about the lack of democracy in Venezuela, the torture of political prisoners and the country's humanitarian crisis.

The president stopped the interview after being shown a video of young Venezuelans eating from a garbage truck. "They confiscated all our equipment," Ramos said.

Ramos and his team were deported on Tuesday and were at the airport at 0800 local (0700 ET). Ramos had said they were scheduled to leave on a midday flight to Miami.

Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said on Twitter the government had in the past welcomed hundreds of journalists to the Miraflores presidential palace, but it did not support "cheap shows" put on with the help of the US Department of State.

Maduro had been conducting interviews with several US media networks on Monday.

Venezuela's government accuses the United States, which is openly pushing for Maduro to step down, of attempting to orchestrate a coup. Washington earlier on Monday targeted Venezuela with new sanctions and called on allies to freeze assets of its state-owned oil company PDVSA.

Spanish-language Univision and the US Department of State had called on Maduro to release the journalists after Ramos rang the network to say they had been detained.

Story highlights

Short detentions and deportations have become common, especially as reporters facing delays for official permissions seek shortcuts to report in Venezuela.