Maduro travelled to Cartagena, Colombia today to meet with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. Maduro was accompanied by a delegation that included his wife, Cilia Flores, and the the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Elias Jaua.

Up for discussion were the topics of smuggling, national defence and trade. During a press conference, Santos said:

I know that smuggling is a topic that worries both countries a lot, and I know that there are initiatives to stop it.

During the press conference, Santos mistakenly referred to Maduro as Chavez, saying:

I’ve just had a conversation with President Chavez… I’m sorry, Maduro…

El Universal Fires Long-Time Columnist

El Universal, a newspaper that has historically been critical of the government, was purchased by a group of undisclosed Spanish investors earlier this month. The newspaper was bought by an unknown, “small group of friends with experience in the media, oil and real state industries“.

Fears that the investors could potentially have connections to the Venezuelan government were put to rest almost as quickly as the sale was finalized when the new president of the newspaper, Jesus Abreu Anselmi,said that the new owners have “no connections to the government”, and that the newspaper would not change it’s critical editorial line.

Today, Ernesto Alveranga, a 15-year columnist for El Universal, saw his weekly column indefinitely suspended by the new owners, sparking new fears that one of Venezuela’s largest opposition voices could be starting to suffer from self-censorship.

Alveranga made it known today that he had received a letter earlier this week telling him that his weekly column would no longer appear in future issues of El Universal.

UNEFA Students Protest Against School Authorities

Students at the Universidad Nacional de las Fuerzas Armadas del Estado Zulia (UNEFA) have been protesting for two days against their university authorities.

While details are scarce, student accounts of the protest paint a chaotic picture. Maria Mata, an engineering student at the university, said:

The telecommunication systems students have been kidnapped. I’m telling you, today they locked the doors on them and they won’t let them come out.

The university, which is run by the government, has been accused of mistreating their students in a number of ways. In particular, the dean of the university, Pedro Zalec, has come under particular scrutiny from students. Eliseo Fermin, a deputy of the Zulia state congress, said:

The complaints of abuse, humiliation and [military presence] in the institution requires intervention by competent authorities (…) this is a university, not an army barrack.

The complaints made by the students allegedly include physical violence at the hands of the school authorities. Milagro Ariza, a spokesperson for the university, said:

I denounce Captain Douglas Valera Valera, who assaulted us yesterday and struck me with a ladder only because I didn’t yield the right of way to him. There is evidence and a video [of this event].

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