Newsletter N°116, Political Prisoners in Venezuela

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Leopoldo López wife demands evidence of his safety

MEDIA RELEASE I freeleopoldo.com
May 4, 2017

Lilian Tintori, wife of political prisoner Leopoldo López, held vigil throughout the night outside the gates of Ramo Verde Military prison, demanding access to her husband to verify his safety.

Last night, Leopoldo Castillo, a prominent Venezuelan journalist with over 2.17 million followers, had posted on his twitter account, @elcitizen, “Information.  Leopoldo Lopez transferred from Ramo Verde to a Military Hospital with no vital signs.  Government maintains hypothesis of poisoning.”  Tintori and López’s mother, Antonieta López, immediately went to the hospital where Captain Rodriguez eventually informed her that López was not there.

López has not been seen or heard from for nearly a month; his family and his lawyers have been refused access and he has been held in isolation. Read more

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Freedom Award Presentation to Luis Almagro 2017

TUTO QUIROGA I accionlibertad.com
May 4, 2017

Two centuries ago Simón Bolívar got on his horse, traversed the Andean mountains and liberated five countries. His work finished too early to be awarded our Freedom Award, first given out in 1943. Tonight we pay tribute to a man who is doing for Bolívar’s native Venezuela, what the Liberator once did for many of us.

Venezuela is a magical country, now mismanaged by a ruthless regime that has destroyed it. People stand in long queues, their arms marked like cattle, to buy cooking oil, flour or toilet paper. Inflation is higher than in Zimbabwe, criminality is worse than Syria’s and scarcity is of Subsaharan scale. Blackouts are recurrent, people eat out of garbage bins, malaria is back and dead children are placed in cardboard caskets. Regime kleptocrats that have stolen billions are now giving away its US based CITGO to the Russians. Read more

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Venezuelan opposition blocks streets to protest Maduro power shakeup

ALEXANDRA ULMER AND EYANIR CHINEA I
reuters.com
May 2, 2017

Venezuela’s opposition blocked streets in Caracas on Tuesday to denounce a decision by leftist President Nicolas Maduro to create a «constituent assembly,» a move critics said was a veiled attempt to cling to power by avoiding elections.

Building on heightening global outcry over Maduro’s government, the United States condemned the action and regional powerhouse Brazil slammed it as «a coup.»

After a month of near-daily protests by opponents demanding early general elections, the unpopular leader announced on Monday that he planned to set up the super-body popular assembly with the power to rewrite the constitution. Read more

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Venezuela is heading toward cataclysm

EDITORIAL BOARD I thewashingtonpost.com
May 3, 2017

FOR A month, Venezuela has been rocked by massive popular demonstrations against the regime of Nicolás Maduro, which has led the country into a dystopia of economic dysfunction and criminality while blatantly violating democratic and constitutional norms. The demands of the opposition have been echoed by the majority of Venezuela’s neighbors in the Organization of American States: release political prisoners, hold democratic elections, and take steps to remedy drastic shortages of food and medicine, including by accepting humanitarian aid.

The regime’s response has been brutally uncompromising. It has pounded opposition marchers with rubber bullets and enveloped them in tear gas ; 29 people have been reported killed in the demonstrations. It has announced its intention to withdraw from the OAS, where it has faced demands to abide by a democratic charter that requires free assembly and free elections. On Monday, Mr. Maduro announced his most radical response yet: the calling of a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution, a maneuver clearly intended to avoid future elections and formally convert Venezuela into an authoritarian state. Read more

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Venezuela Says It Will Leave Pro-Democracy Organization

NICHOLAS CASEY I nytimes.com
April 26, 2017

Venezuela said Wednesday that it would pull out of the Organization of American States, which has long been critical of President Nicolás Maduro’s unyielding accumulation of power at the expense of the country’s democratic institutions.

The move increases Venezuela’s isolation while its government is struggling to put down mass street protests demanding new elections. And it shows that the country — which, through anticapitalist rhetoric and oil largess, once aimed to challenge the United States as a power in Latin America — is becoming something of a pariah in its own region. Read more

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European Parlament urges Venezuela to restore democratic order and free all political prisoners

PRESS RELEASE I europarl.europa.eu
April 27, 2017

In a resolution adopted by 450 votes to 35, with 100 abstentions, Parliament strongly condemns the “brutal repression” exercised by the Venezuelan security forces, as well as irregular armed groups, against the peaceful protests, as a result of which more than 20 people have died and many wounded.MEPs denounce the continuing unconstitutional violation of the democratic order in Venezuela and the lack of separation of powers and independence of the branches of government. They object to the Supreme Court’s recent decision to suspend the powers of the National Assembly (controlled by the opposition), which they consider to be an undemocratic act that violates the Constitution. Read more

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