Leopoldo Lopez ended his hunger strike less than a day after the head of the Consejo Nacional Electoral, Tibisay Lucena, announced the date of of this year’s parliamentary elections.

The announcement came via Lopez’s wife, Lilian Tintori, who read a letter written by Lopez to Venezuelan media. In the letter, Lopez called for the approximately 100 Venezuelans also on hunger strike to also end their protests, and reminded his followers that “we began this protest not to die, but to live so that all Venezuelans could live in dignity”.

In the letter, Lopez said vowed that he would never surrender in the fight against a better Venezuela, and that:

Starting tomorrow until the elections take place we will fight to achieve the last of our objectives, which is to ensure our political prisoners are freed.

At the time of the announcement this morning, Lopez had been on hunger strike for 30 days.

Renault Ends Venezuelan Operations

French manufacturer Renault announced today that it was shutting down every one of its 22 dealerships in the country, effectively ending the company’s presence in Venezuela

The company had operated successfully in the country since 1958.

Otero: PSUV Win “Practically Impossible”

The head of the El Nacional newspaper, Miguel Otero, said today that it was “practically impossible” for the PSUV to win the fall parliamentary elections, given the level of discontent with Maduro’s presidential term and the worsening socio-economic crisis the country faces. As such, Otero warned, it is likely that the PSUV would be tempted to steal the election, making impartial international observers an absolute necessity.

Otero, who is currently in Rome, called for help “from the international community” to guarantee “transparent and fair” elections in December. He also said:

The Venezuelan government doesn’t want international observers because they [the Venezuelan government] install fraudulent means by which to count votes and deny access to polls. [All the things] that equal an unfair electoral system.

Otero called for countries like Italy, Mexico and Spain to exert diplomatic pressure on Venezuela to accept international observer missions, and decried the state of the press in Venezuela, saying that it had been “reduced to the minimum expression”.

UN Urges Gov’t To Address “Severe Scarcity”

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UNCESCR) issued a statement last week in which it expressed a number of concerns, ranging from abuses against legal rights to the issue of scarcity.

The document (available in Spanish here) criticized the Maduro government for failing to guarantee an independent judiciary branch. Similarly, the report considered the People’s Defender – an institution akin to the office of the ombudsman – to be another extension of the executive branch and thus unable to carry out its mission properly.

The UNCESCR also expressed “worry” over the apparent lack of progress made in combating corruption in the country, and noted that while poverty had decreased “significantly” in the country, the last few years have seen “a regressive trend” in the gains made.

Specifically on the issue of nutrition and access to food, the body lamented Venezuela’s dependence on food imports, and blamed the fact for “generating severe shortages and scarcity of food and basic necessities”.

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