The country’s official opposition bloc, the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, spoke on the latest U.S. sanctions against Venezuelan officials last night. During a press conference, the MUD’s head, Jesus Torrealba, said that the bloc was not happy that the U.S. declared Venezuela a “threat to national security”, and that it does not believe that unilateral sanctions are the best way to go about fostering change.

The MUD’s official position on the sanctions can read here in Spanish. My translation is seen below:

  1. Venezuela is not a threat to any country. The policies of the current Venezuelan government are the ones that threaten and restrict the rights of our citizens to live and make progress in peace. In this way, we ratify that our struggle is peaceful, democratic, electoral and constitutional, and that we struggle here in Venezuela alongside the Venezuelan people who are the main characters [in this struggle].
  2. Hiding behind a flag to protect a bank account full of corrupt funds is immoral. Hiding behind the word “homeland” to grant impunity to the violation of human rights is precisely an offence against the homeland. A distinction must be made between sanctions against a country and sanctions against a group of people, which is why we’ve consistently rejected general actions against a whole nation. However, this has nothing to do with the consequences individuals might bring upon themselves by committing acts that violate human rights, or who assault the public good and the well-being of their citizens.
  3. We prefer preventative actions that abide to the rules and institutions fostered by the international community within the law to unilateral sanctions. However, we denounce that this lamentable situation was precipitated by the Venezuelan government by not respecting and disobeying the rulings of United Nations bodies such as the Committee Against Torture and the Working Group Against Arbitrary Detention, which have repeatedly called for the release of political prisoners in Venezuela and for an end to the politicization of the judiciary, and by ignoring the measures adopted about Venezuela by the Inter-american System for Human Rights. By [failing to follow] international law, by refusing to comply by covenants and treaties which the Republic entered, the Venezuelan government has precipitated the lamentable scenario we see today. Those who have witnessed these improper developments in silence are also responsible.
  4. We appreciate and are thankful for the support given to us by the international community, but we do not hope – nor do we ask – that the international community or some of its members will take on duties that belong to us. Just as we reject the obscene Cuban interference, we do not wish to bring on nor accept another. This is a fight by Venezuelans for Venezuela.

In the National Assembly, opposition deputies created a proposal to ask the United States government to make a clear distinction between “sanctions against a country and sanctions against a group of people”. The same deputies decried the act of taking “general measures” against a country via sanctions.

The opposition proposal was brought to the floor by Deputy Edgar Zambrano in the hopes of uniting the National Assembly in the creation of a single document in response to the sanctions.

El Aissami Calls for Military Readiness Drill

Aragua state Governor Tareck El Aissami called for a nation-wide military drill on Saturday, possibly in connection with recent increased PSUV rhetoric involving an allegedly imminent U.S. invasion.

Through Twitter, El Aissami said:

Let us ALL go on Saturday to the civil-military training to defend our sacred SOVEREIGNTY! The time for PATRIOTS has come!

In another tweet, El Aissami added:

If the time comes that our HOMELAND demands our lives for her defence, then these TIMES will be blessed!

Foreign Affairs Minister Responds to U.S. Diplomat

Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez had harsh words today for Roberta Jacobson, the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Earlier today, Jacobson said that the latest sanctions against Venezuelan officials target only “human rights abusers/corrupt” individuals through her Twitter account. She also said that the goal of sanctions was to “persuade the government of Venezuela to change it’s ways” rather than to overthrow it.

Speaking during a television interview today, Rodriguez answered Jacobson’s remarks, saying:

Mrs. Jacobson has told us in an arrogant and rude way ‘you have to do this’ or else. This is why these sanctions were placed.

Rodriguez’s comments then turned personal:

No one tells us what to do. I know her really well because I’ve personally seen her. The way she walks, the way she chews [her food]. She has to have manners to deal with people and other countries.

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