The Carvajal saga continued to unfold today after allegations that the Venezuelan government threatened Aruba into releasing the suspected drug trafficker. Aruban attorney general Peter Blanken made it clear that the threats – or perceived threats – did not precipitate Carvajal’s release. Rather, the former Venezuelan general was released after the Dutch authorities determined that he did in fact have diplomatic immunity. Blanken explained, saying:
The measures taken against Aruba were not the reason why the authorities decided to release Hugo Carvajal… as far as I know, Mr. Carvajal was released because it was determined that he had diplomatic immunity.
Blanken alleges that several Venezuelan ships were first detected off Aruba’s territorial waters on early Sunday morning. However, the ships were not determined to be a pressing threat by the Dutch navy. Arthur Dowers, the Aruban Minister of Justice, spoke on the nature of the ships, saying:
I didn’t consider the movements of the ships to be threatening because they were returning from an exercise and they were returning to their port in Puerto Cabello.
Regardless of the nature of the ships’ movements, Blanken said:
The threat was there. We don’t know what their intentions were, but I think a lot of people in Aruba were scared that something would happen.
Diosdado Cabello spoke on behalf of the Venezuelan government, providing an answer to the allegations., saying:
We didn’t threaten [anyone, nor did we] move a single frigate. Holland responded in a diplomatic manner and did the right thing by releasing a diplomatic official who had immunity.
Human Rights Watch Condemns Situation in Venezuela, Again
Human Rights Watch presented a document to the U.N. Human Rights Committee in which it highlights “areas of concern” regarding the country’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as the international body moves to review the events that are currently taking place in Venezuela.
The document, which is in the form of a briefing, can be found in its entirety here. It highlights seven areas of concern:
- Excessive Use of Force Against Demonstrators
- Lack of Judicial Independence and Due Process Rights
- Freedom of Expression
- [Attacks against] Human Rights Defenders
- Prison Conditions
- Political Discrimination
- Labor Rights
In particular, the document mentions the use of “armed pro-government gangs to attack unarmed civilians“, and ongoing abuses of power “to regulate media” to the problem of “self-censorship”, where media outlets fear printing news stories critical of the government out of fears of reprisals.
Food Manufacturer Warns of Production Crisis
Polar, a national food manufacturer, warned today that it’s ability to produce corn flour – a Venezuelan staple – is “seriously compromised” and headed towards unsuitability within the next few months.
According to a communique posted on their official website, Polar is currently producing corn flour at a loss due to the fact that corn flour prices – which are regulated by the government – have not been revised in nearly a year. Since the last revision, Polar argues, production costs have increased exponentially, and inflation has shot up 60.9%, making corn flour production unsustainable.
In response to the news, Maduro said that while he was not ware of the specific reasons for Polar’s statements today, the government:
… is permanently working on prices, both on setting them and watching them.
Finally, a picture showing demonstrators outside of the Palace of Justice in Caracas, demanding the release of the students detained in protests camps in early May: