I was wearing a bulletproof vest, lying flat in the backseat of an unmarked armored car and being escorted by three heavily armed men when I started to worry.
At that point I had been in the custody of Venezuela’s General Directorate of Military Counter Intelligence for 24 hours. I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that a “commission” was waiting for me.
It was Friday, and I had missed my return flight to Bogotá, where I’ve lived for the past three years covering the Andes for the Miami Herald. During that time, I’ve probably made a dozen reporting trips to Venezuela without serious problems — until now.
My troubles began Thursday in the border town of San Cristóbal in Táchira state. I had spent the day interviewing opposition and ruling-party leaders about Venezuela’s Dec. 8 municipal vote.
The national race is seen as a referendum on Nicolás Maduro’s six months in office as he has struggled to fill the shoes of his late boss Hugo Chávez amid a deepening economic crisis and skyrocketing inflation.
In San Cristóbal, not surprisingly, both parties cited contraband as a hot-button issue.