Jesus Torrealba, the head of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), announced today that Leopoldo Lopez, Antonio Ledezma and Daniel Ceballos would all be listed on ballots in this year’s anticipated parliamentary elections. All three men are currently in prison.
Torrealba explained why the decision to include the incarcerated leaders in the election came about:
Daniel Ceballos, Antonio Ledezma and Leopoldo Lopez sent the MUD a message asking that we consider their names considered for the national parliament. Of course we will!
He also pointed out how opposition politicians have been persecuted by the Maduro government in recent months:
This government has irresponsibly accused a lot of people without presenting a single piece of evidence. We have to remember about the presumption of innocence. The videos presented [by the government] have not revealed any type of connection between opposition leaders and criminal acts.
Attorney General: Lopez “Cannot Run” Till 2017
Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz was quick to respond to the MUD’s comments regarding Leopoldo Lopez’s possible run for the National Assembly. Speaking to reporters, Diaz pointed out that Lopez is prohibited from holding any public office until 2017 as a result of a sentence handed down in a pair of campaign financial irregularity cases back in 2005.
Diaz also confirmed that there was a pending legal case against Maria Corina Machado, but she refused to comment on the ongoing proceedings against Antonio Ledezma.
Maduro Speaks on U.S. Row
Last night, Maduro spoke about the latest alleged coup against him in his television show Contacto con Maduro. During the show, Maduro spoke on the recent diplomatic spat with the United States, and said that Venezuela was not “anti-U.S.”:
The only anti-U.S. [people] are the ones in Washington, the lobbyists.
To prove that Venezuela was not the enemy of the United States, Maduro reminded the audience that Chavez travelled to the U.S. himself on a few occassions, and that Chavez “played baseball… and knew the people of the United States”.
Maduro also said that a UNASUR commission will arrive in Venezuela on Friday to help provide an assessment of the country’s socio-political turmoil.
Alleged Coup Evidence Heard
During the show, Maduro played an audio recording he claims proves there is a conspiracy against him.
In the tape, a voice who Maduro claims belongs to Carlos Manuel Osuna Saraco, a lawyer from Aragua state who currently lives in New York City. Saraco appears to have worked at the Minister of Foreign Affairs under President Jaime Lusinchi some time between 1984 and 1989. Maduro claims that Saraco also worked with Antonio Ledezma in some capacity.
The tape features a voice claimed to be Saraco’s reading a written statement in which he discusses overthrowing the Venezuelan government, and was allegedly recorded on January 7 of this year.
Maduro claimed that the message was going to be aired by Televen and CNN when the coup took place as a means to communicate the fact to the world.
Maduro did not provide any evidence that the man heard on the tape is actually Carlos Manuel Osuna Sacaro, how/if Sacaro is connected to the Venezuelan opposition, or what his purpose in recording the message was.
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