CARACAS — The Miami Herald reporter detained by Venezuelan security forces was released to U.S. Embassy officials.
Jim Wyss was detained Thursday night as he reported on Venezuela’s economic crisis in the southwestern city of San Cristobal.
The Miami Herald reported that Wyss was released Saturday afternoon from a detention facility in Carcas and that officials said the journalist was in good health.
“I’m very grateful for everybody who worked to help resolve this problem,” Wyss told The Herald in a phone interview.
Miama Herald Executive Editor Aminda Marqués Gonzalez confirmed in the report that Wyss was safe and would be reunited with his family.
Wyss, the paper’s Andean bureau chief, was detained after he interviewed members of the campaign team of an opposition candidate running for mayor in San Cristobal, the capital of Tachira state, near the border with Colombia.
El Universal reported that police detained Wyss and confiscated his belongings. No reason was given.
Wyss, an American citizen, is based in Bogota, Colombia.
The Herald said Friday that Wyss was reporting “on the country’s chronic shortages and looming municipal elections.”
Local sources told the Herald that Wyss was initially detained by the Venezuelan National Guard and then transferred to the military intelligence agency, DGIM.
“We are very concerned,” Gonzalez said. “There doesn’t seem to be any basis for his detention and we’re trying to figure out what’s going on.”
The Herald requested Wyss was released immediately, Gonzalez said.
Detentions of journalists in Venezuela have mounted in the run-up to Dec. 8 local elections, which are being cast as a referendum on the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
Three Venezuelan journalists were detained last week for covering a Christmas bazaar at the state Mercal food chain.
The journalists, who work for the 2001 newspaper, were beaten up and had their equipment confiscated after they took photos of a melee of would-be shoppers fighting to purchase hard to find foodstuffs. Mercal has been holding bazaars of hard to find items as the holidays approach.
Venezuela is experiencing shortages of basic foodstuffs such as corn meal, wheat flour, milk and cooking oil.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claims that the shortages are caused by an economic war being waged against his government by the country’s opposition and business elite.
The opposition counters that the shortages are caused by the government’s own economic policies.
Contributing: Heather Mongilio; Associated Press