Venezuela arrests US filmmaker for provoking 'civil war' following election violence


Supporters of Venezuelan opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles burn a banner of new proclaimed President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on April 15.


Geraldo Caso

Venezuela on Thursday arrested US filmmaker Timothy Hallet Tracy, accusing him of trying to provoke a "civil war" in the restive Latin American nation, reported Reuters.

The move comes amid mounting government scrutiny on opposition activity there, with lawmakers calling for a probe into recent post-election unrest that authorities say left nine people dead, said Reuters. 

Opposition protests led by failed presidential candidate Henrique Capriles broke out soon after Nicolas Maduro's narrow presidential victory on April 14, demonstrations the authorities say were an attempt to overthrow the government, said Reuters. The opposition denies this. 

Thursday's arrest of the 35-year-old American filmmaker essentially implicated him in opposition activity. 

"We detected the presence of an American who began developing close relations with these [pro-opposition students]," Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez told reporters, said Reuters

"His actions clearly show training as an intelligence agent, there can be no doubt about it. He knows how to work in clandestine operations," Rodriguez said, accusing Tracy of trying to start a "civil war."

Tracy's family denies any kind of political motive, saying the filmmaker has been in Venezuela working on a documentary for the past year, according to the Associated Press. Tracy's father told AP that his son had already been detained twice by the authorities. 

The authorities are quite busy in Venezuela these days, with the National Assembly announcing Thursday on Twitter that starting Monday, a special parliamentarian committee (containing zero opposition lawmakers) will work to "determine responsibility for violent actions directed by Capriles," said Reuters

Committee head and lawmaker Pedro Carreno described Capriles as a "murderer" while announcing the investigation, according to Reuters

The opposition leader's outspoken ways are making waves in the Latin American nation.

"The truth -- and it is as big as our country is wide -- is that you stole the election," Capriles told authorities on Wednesday, according to Agence-France Press. "That is the truth. You stole this electoral process, and you have to explain that to this country and to the world," he said.

Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz issued a veiled warning to the opposition on Wednesday, according to Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, saying:

“[T]here were calls made through some media and networks like Twitter and others, by direct and subliminal messages, encouraging citizens to take street actions. Hostile actions and contrary to the law, which led a sector of the public to attack another sector of the population."

More from GlobalPost: In Depth: Venezuela's Vote

Venezuela's presidential election was closely watched for any sign of change to the socialist policies of late longtime leader Hugo Chavez, who died in March.