UNASUR Secretary General Ernesto Samper stressed today the organization’s “determination” to help ensure that the December parliamentary elections be carried out democratically and without incident. To date, UNASUR has been the only international organization invited by the Venezuelan government to provide observers for the highly-anticipated elections.
In an interview with Chile’s El Mercurio, Samper was reminded that fair electoral campaigns are an important part of the democratic process, and was asked what he thought about this subject within the Venezuelan context:
Within the electoral process there are two moments: voting day and the campaign. Does UNASUR believe that there can be a fair campaign in Venezuela, considering the fact that the opposition has almost no access to media, since most of it is sided with the government?
Samper: These are the things that the opposition will have to explain to the observer mission. We will make efforts to make sure that the opposition is given access to free press, since our position is that there must be sufficient access to free press and media without restrictions. This is true both when it comes to the opposition accessing media that leans towards the government, and the government accessing media that leans towards the opposition.
When asked what the believed of the recent political disqualifications of prominent opposition figures, Samper said:
We don’t issue judgements on specific cases. Our position as an organization is that there should be freedom for everyone to run… one of the jobs of this electoral observation mission will be to mediate about these differences and worries before bodies that can address them.
Madrid Summons Ambassador Over Maduro Comments
The Spanish government summoned Mario Isea, the Venezuelan ambassador to the country, to express its “rejection and discomfort” over comments Maduro made yesterday in which he called Spanish Prime Minister a “hitman”. Maduro made the comments yesterday on television while he spoke about the Greek debt crisis.
Something’s going to happen in Greece. Another European hitman is [Spanish Prime Minister Marino] Rajoy. He is a hitman [who targets] the people.
The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the following statement regarding its meeting with ambassador Isea:
The Spanish government regrets that the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela continues to make disrespectful comments that do not help the relationship between our two countries.
The last time the Spanish government reacted to insults from Maduro was just three months ago. On April 15, Madrid also voiced its discontent at a speech Maduro made in which he called Prime Minister Rajoy a “racist”.
Maduro habitually accuses people of crimes without providing any kind of evidence on television. Just last night, he insinuated that Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles was involved in a human trafficking operation involving young girls.
Maduro: Tough Measures Against Crime Coming
During the same speech in which he accused Capriles of being involved in sex trafficking operations in Miranda state, Maduro promised to “tighten my grip” on criminal groups in the country with a series of new laws he is set to announce soon. Maduro said:
I’m setting up a set of new laws to tighten my grip, so that they won’t think that we’re playing around, that it’s concha de ajo [literally, “garlic skin”; I believe it’s a phrase akin to saying, “so that they don’t think we are weak”].
Maduro also said that a security operations in a residential complex in Montalban, Caracas “liberated” 20 apartments he claims were being used by criminals for nefarious purposes. Interestingly, while Maduro explained that 20 foreigners had been arrested in the raid, he did not want to deport them, and would instead make sure that they were sent to prison in Venezuela.
We’re not going to deport them. Whoever is involved in paramilitarism, drug trafficking, hoarding and reselling — they’re going to prison to really secure prisons that I’m setting up in the centre of the country, special prisons.
He provided no further details.
In total, 68 people were arrested in raids in Montalban this morning. 966 officers from various security bodies took part in the raids. The operation took place within the banner of the Operativo de Proteccion y Liberacion del Pueblo [Operation Liberation and Protection of the People], a security operation that has been in effect in the country for the last two weeks.
Capriles Arrives in Washington, Meets with OAS
Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles met today with Luis Almagro, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, in Washington D.C.
In a series of Tweets, Capriles thanked Almagro for meeting with him, and stressed that Venezuela is living through “the worst economic and social crisis” in its history.
Maduro Heads to New York to Meet Ban Ki-Moon
Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez has just announced through Twitter that Maduro is en route to New York City tonight to personally meet with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon over the territorial dispute with Guyana.
The story is breaking, and there is no additional information at this time.
Below, the tweets in question:
President @NicolasMaduro will travel tonight to New York to have a special meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
President @NicolasMaduro guarantees the peace of our homeland and Venezuela’s legitimate rights! Let us continue to build Latin American unity in peace.
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