The Miami Herald's Andean bureau chief, Jim Wyss, was detained this week in Venezuela by the National Guard while working on a report about the scarcity of consumer goods in that country and its upcoming municipal election.

According to The Miami Herald, following his detention Thursday the journalist was transferred to the DGIM military intelligence unit in San Cristobal, Tachira state, where he is being held in custody.

The editors of South Florida's leading newspaper have been in contact with officials of the Venezuelan government in an attempt to get Wyss released, while Venezuela's Communications and Information Ministry would give no indication about why he was detained.

"We are very concerned," said Aminda Marques Gonzalez, the Herald's executive editor. "There doesn't seem to be any basis for his detention and we're trying to figure out what's going on. We are asking that Jim Wyss be released immediately."

According to statements by some journalists in the town of San Cristobal, Wyss was seen in custody on Friday afternoon.

"He's been in there over 12 hours and he's still stuck in custody," Lorena Arraiz, a journalist at El Universal who was investigating the incident, said in a statement published in the Herald.

Arraiz added that "I was able to see him and he looked all right, but they (the authorities) wouldn't let us close" to ask him any questions.

The Miami Herald, published by the McClatchy group, is the most important newspaper in South Florida and has won more than 20 Pulitzer Prizes over the years. EFE