Senior Venezuelan Diplomat Detained Under Unclear Circumstances

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry's North America director was arrested by authorities last week. No charges have been announced and the ministry has yet to issue a statement.

Caracas, November 18, 2016 ( – A leading Venezuelan diplomatic official has been taken into custody by authorities following a raid on his Caracas office last week. 
Ricardo Moreno, North America director for the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry, was detained by agents of the National Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) on November 10. 
A resident in the United States for 20 years, Moreno is a widely respected Chavista activist with a long organizing track record in solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution. 
As founder of the Los Angeles-based Simon Bolívar Association following the 2002 US-sponsored coup against the late former president Hugo Chávez, Moreno appeared widely in US Hispanic media debating with leading anti-Chavista figures, such as FEDECAMERAS President Carlos Fernandez and former US Under-Secretary of State Otto Reich. 
Late last year, Moreno renounced his legal residency in the US in order to serve as Venezuela’s consul general in San Francisco. However, his appointment was stalled for six months by the Obama administration, which refused to accept new diplomatic appoints amid heightened tensions between the two countries. 
Midway through this year, Moreno was named North America director for the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry. 
Last week, the high-level diplomat was detained by the SEBIN without prior warning. Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry has yet to release a statement regarding the reasons for the arrest and no charges have been announced. 
According to the Miami-based DiarioLasAmericas, Moreno was last seen in public on November 8 during an event organized by the United States Embassy in Caracas, which he was authorized to attend. 
The newspaper alleged that the North America director may have been under suspicion of leaking information, yet offered no evidence to bolster the claim. 
An unnamed source inside the Foreign Ministry has suggested the arrest may be linked to internal “power struggles” within the institution. 
“It’s a delicate situation. Ricardo doesn’t have [political] godfathers here. He recently arrived and got wrapped up in a power struggle,” the source told Aporrea. “There’s an internal knife fight going on here. I think they framed him to get rid of him.”
Moreno was recently renamed consul general for San Francisco with plans to return to the post in December.