A group of Brazilian senators arrived in Venezuela early this morning and met with members of the Venezuelan opposition today, including Lilian Tintori and Mitzy Ledezma, the wives of Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma.
The group of senators – headed by Roberto Requiao – emphasized their impartiality in the Venezuelan crisis. During a press conference, Requiao said:
We are here to listen. We are going to prepare a report to take it back to the Brazilian senate. We don’t favour any party. We are representing the Brazilian senate. We came here to listen so we could try to help.
At the end of their meeting with the opposition leaders, Requiao pointed out that as far apart as the PSUV and opposition supporters might be on most issues, they do share some common ground. Requiao referred to a group of PSUV supporters who represent the families of people killed during the protests last year. Requiao observed:
It’s interesting that the wives of the political prisoners and the families of all the Venezuelans who were killed during the protests of February 2014 share a common complaint: they all agree that in Venezuela there is a disrespect for human rights, and they single out [government] officials.
After meeting with the opposition figures, the senators met with PSUV vice-president Diosdado Cabello.
Bank of America: Inflation to Hit 172.4% in 2015
In the continued absence of official figures from the Banco Central de Venezuela, the Bank of America reported on Monday that it calculates that Venezuela’s inflation rate for 2015 would be 172.4%, a rate it claims “is consistent… with the start of hyperinflation”. The bank also believes that the inflation for 2015 so far has already surpassed the 100% mark.
Since the Venezuelan central bank has not released any kind of inflation data so far this year, the Bank of America instead look at official figures on tax collection on non-oil products. The figures, when other factors are considered, led the organization to arrive at its conclusion.
The same report found that the rate of inflation has averaged 8.7% in 2015 so far.
Capriles: Opposition Win Would Put Institutions Back On Track
Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles told supporters today that an opposition win in the December 6 elections would put the country’s institutions to work not for a single person, but for all Venezuelans.
Capriles said that he was happy with the decision by the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica to present a unified ballot for the election, and that he was looking forward to December so that Venezuela “might take another step toward change”.
US State Department Criticizes Human Rights in Venezuela
An annual report on human rights around the world published by the United States Department of State for the year 2014 criticized the Venezuelan government for making “selective use” of the law to punish political dissenters, and observed that “corruption and impunity” are major worries for Venezuelans.
The same report echoed observations by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International on the way the protests of 2014 were handled. The report says:
Security forces and armed progovernment groups committed human rights abuses against participants in widespread protests that took place across the country, especially between February and May. There were widespread reports of use of force to break up antigovernment protests, arbitrary detention, torture, and imprisonment of protesters. The government arrested and imprisoned several opposition figures, including Leopoldo Lopez, Enzo Scarano, and Daniel Ceballos, and consistently delayed their trials.
On the state of the judiciary, the report found that the Venezuelan government did not respect judicial independence, and that it generally “did not respect judicial independence or permit judges to act according to the law without fear of retaliation”.
The entire report can be found here.
CNE Mandates 40% of Candidates Be Women
Tibisay Lucena, the head of the Consejo Nacional Electoral, announced late this afternoon that at least 40% of all candidates – both for the PSUV and the opposition – must be women. Lucena said that the rule had been under study since February.
The head of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, Jesus Torrealba, took to Union Radio just minutes after Lucena’s announcement, and called Lucena’s announcement “totally illegal and unconstitutional”.
Torrealba also pointed out that the MUD has already held primaries, and has thus already chosen its candidates for the parliamentary elections. In other words, Lucena’s announcement comes too late for the MUD to comply by, even if it wanted to.
This is like changing the rules of a soccer game during the second half.
He accused the CNE of attempting to discredit the opposition prior to the election, and warned that he expected similar moves in the future.
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