A US citizen who participated in the Venezuelan Embassy Protection Collective was detained, searched and interrogated for the second time by US government agents about his political beliefs and participation in the anti-war movement.
By Max Blumenthal
On his way back from a Christmas visit to his family in Nicaragua, 31-year-old US citizen Sergio Lazo Torrez was detained by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers at Fort Lauderdale International Airport on January 20, then interrogated by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents who grilled him about his involvement in the US anti-war movement.
Torrez was a participant in the Venezuela Embassy Protection Collective, a group of activists and journalists formed in April 2019 to defend Venezuela’s embassy in Washington DC against a takeover attempt by the Trump-backed coup administration of Juan Guaido.
As The Grayzone reported, Torrez was previously detained by CBP at Dulles International Airport on August 2 after returning from a solidarity trip to Venezuela with fellow members of the collective, including this reporter. There, he was questioned for several hours about his activities in Caracas and was forced to surrender his cellphone for a search.
Torrez described the January 20 interrogation as longer and more intrusive than the last one. “They made me feel powerless because you can’t defend yourself and they can do whatever they want,” he told The Grayzone. “Even though I’m a US citizen, they told me that every time I come back to the country, I’m going to be forced to go through the same thing….”