El Frente Nacional de Mujeres [National Women’s Front] spearheaded a demonstration today in front of the SEBIN headquarters in Caracas. The protest took place at the El Helicoide, a notorious Caracas landmark dating back to the days of dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez, which now acts as the central offices of the Venezuelan intelligence service. El Helicoide also acts as a detention center.
Mary Mogollon, one of the representatives of the Front, explained the motivation for the protest:
We’re here [supporting] the political prisoners who are being held here and we are telling the students that they are not alone, that they have the support of this national front, [that] we will not abandon the streets and [we will not stop] doing the necessary things from prayer to protests and street mobilizations, because we cannot allow human rights violations to exist in a government that is supposed to be democratic.
More specifically, the protesters were there to support Sairam Rivas, a student who is currently incarcerated. Mogollon explained:
Sairam Rivas has become a political [prisoner] because she is a legitimate student leader. This government persecutes brave, fighting women, [women who] take leadership roles through votes, without being appointed, without being hand picked. We will not stop this struggle. We also support the mothers of whose sons have been detained for political reasons.
MUD Denounces Arrest Warrants
Diosdado Cabello, the vice-president of the PSUV and president of the National Assembly, announced on his television show yesterday that arrest warrants were being issued for opposition activists Gustavo Tarre and Henrique Salas Romer. The executive director of the official opposition, Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, spoke on the announcement, saying:
Such is the political use of the law by the national government that the vice-president of the PSUV, on a television program where he sometimes acts as judge and jury, can order the issuing of arrest warrants against Venezuelans whose only position [in this context, “crime”] has been to disagree with the way the national government is run. [This shows] that the party [the PSUV] orders judicial actions.
Diosdado’s T.V. show is called Con El Mazo Dando, which very roughly translates into “Striking with the Mallet”. He has in the past used his show to level wild accusations against people, offering little in the way of solid evidence.
Opposition Deputy Deplores “Generalized Corruption”
Opposition Deputy Andres Velasquez held a press conference today to highlight as “extremely grave” the comments made by the Comptroller of the Republic earlier this week regarding the massive level of corruption present inside the Venezuelan State. Velasquez said:
[The Comptroller’s] affirmation confirms that in Venezuela were are living in a state of generalized corruption (…) every public office has practically become a type of toll booth under the idea of some public officials that efficiency should be paid for…
Velasquez also pointed out that while Venezuela has been paid in excess of $100 dollars per barrel of crude oil over the past several years, the country still finds itself in “extreme poverty, ruin and corporate bankruptcy”. He elaborated:
The enemy here is neither capitalism, nor the oligarchy, nor neoliberalism – nevermind Yankee imperialism. [The enemy] is the corrupt official who steals public money like a common thief.
The discrepancy between the amount of money Venezuela rakes in from the oil industry and the unacceptable level of poverty it has consistently experienced was also picked up by Henrique Capriles yesterday.
Medicine Now 50% Scarce
The president of the Federacion Venezolana de Farmeceuticos [Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation], Freddy Ceballos, said that scarcity of medicine in the country currently finds itself “over” the 50% mark. Namely, Ceballos said that medicines to treat hypertension, creams that treat burns, and thyroid medicine are particularly scarce. Ceballos also said:
The products that arrive [into the country] are not enough to meet the necessities of the market. That’s the reality we are living.
Finally, two pictures of Maduro at an event where military personnel were promoted: