Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz threw her weight into the Leopoldo Lopez hunger strike by suggesting that a court oversee that he receive “adequate” medical attention nine days into his hunger strike. Diaz said that it was the responsibility of the state to ensure the well-being of all Venezuelans, specially the ones who are under state custody, namely prisoners.
The Public Ministry has asked the tribunal de control [supervisory court] which is involved in the trial of the citizen Leopoldo Lopez to guarantee the corresponding medical treatment, and that it guarantee adequate medical attention.
Lopez has been in prison since February 18 of last year awaiting the conclusion of his trail for public instigation, assault, damage to public property and arson. He has been on a hunger strike since Sunday, May 24, and is demanding the release of all political prisoners, the official announcement of parliamentary elections, and an end to political persecution in the country.
Supreme Court Removes Opposition Mayor from Office
The Tribunal Supremo de Justicia [Supreme Court] ordered the removal of Lumay Barreto from her post as the mayor of Guasdualito, Apure state.
In February of this year, Barreto found herself in Caracas attending a meeting of the national Association of Mayor. While there, she received a message from the Guasdualito council informing her that she was no longer mayor because she had abandoned her post. At the time, Barreto said:
The councillors [who support the PSUV], following orders from Apure Governor Ramon Carrizales [PSUV], removed me from office and named the city council president, Victor Blanco, as my replacement. They did this because they allege I had abandoned the office, but I had notified them that I was going to be absent for three days and I left the municipality’s general director, Tulio Hidalgo, in charge.
Barreto took the council’s decision to court, and today’s judgement means that Barreto has no legal option but to vacate her seat.
The decision appears to have taken National Assembly opposition deputies by surprise, as they were unable to mount any kind of formal opposition to the motion to ratify Barreto’s removal in the country’s legislature. The National Assembly passed the ratifying vote easily, finally sealing the issue’s fate.
Deputy Miriam Berdugo (Apure) lamented the decision, and qualified it as an assault on democracy. Berdugo said:
The government always talks about coups, but they’re the ones who mount the coups. After the coup of 1992, mayors have been the victims of coups. This time, it was Alto Apure’s [the municipality in which Guasdualito is found] turn.
Barreto was elected mayor of Guasdualito in 2013 after a pitched battle in which she was the underdog. Berdugo said that the court’s decision to remove Barreto is an affront to the electorate, and called on Venezuelans to take back the National Assembly to ensure these types of assaults did not take place in the future:
The people who fought so hard to win the mayor’s office – and it was so difficult to win it! – are now helpless. This is an extremely serious decision, and we will take up this case from this parliament soon. I call on the Venezuelan people to be aware that the government will continue its attacks, and the only thing that can save us is winning the National Assembly [in the fall elections] and putting an end to these violations of the law.
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