Maduro met with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today to discuss the border dispute with Guyana over the Essequibo region. After the meeting, Maduro said that Ki-moon had agreed to attempt to organize a meeting between Maduro and Guyanese President David Granger, to take place as early as September of this year.
At a press conference after the meeting, Maduro said that Venezuela would only seek to resolve the issue peacefully, and that he was certain that “sooner rather than later, we will achieve great results”.
Maduro said that he talked the Secretary General through a brief history of Venezuela’s claim to the region, beginning with the end of Spanish colonial rule and ending with the Guyana’s legal position in relation to the matter in the post-independence era.
Maduro Rules Out International Observers
When asked during the press conference if Venezuela would accept international observers to help guarantee the integrity of the democratic process during the December 6 parliamentary elections, Maduro said:
We will never accept them from anyone…. Venezuela cannot be – nor will it ever be – monitored by anyone.
Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles was in Washington, D.C. earlier this week meeting with the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro. Part of Capriles’ mission was to try to garner support for an international observer mission to help monitor the elections.
Maria Corina Machado was quick to reply to Maduro’s out-of-hand dismissal of the suggestion for international observers. Through Twitter,Machado said that the idea of the international observers was not to monitor Venezuela, but rather “you and your corrupt, cheating regime”.
We Venezuelans understand that Maduro’s refusal to accept international observers is an admittance of defeat and the continuation of this fraud (…) Democrats all over the world understand that respect for popular will in the parliamentary elections is key for a peaceful transition.
Panamericana Victims Speak Out
A video uploaded to YouTube by La Patilla shows a number of residents speaking about their eviction from their homes along a stretch of the Panamericana highway in Caracas on Saturday. A total of 113 families were evicted from makeshift homes by the National Guard and National Bolivarian Police.
Speaking during a televised event shortly after the operation, Maduro said that the people affected were “horrible”, and that they were involved in robberies and other crimes.
In the video, several men and women explain how they were evicted forcefully from their makeshift homes by National Guard officers. Some of them claim to have been – or have witnessed – beatings and robberies carried out by the officers.
Below, the video along with my translation:
People off-screen: Express yourself, man — that’s where your kids are.
Woman in Red: They evicted me from house. I have all my things — my kids have gone hungry the whole day, and I don’t have any kind of an answer from Maduro. I wish he would give me an answer because I’m concerned. I have a three year-old daughter who asked me for food at 4:00 PM because they weren’t able to give her food. Why? Because they [the authorities] wouldn’t let us cook, because they didn’t care about anything. How is it possible that we as human beings have to go through this? We need them to find us a solution, because we’re human beings and we need one.
Man in Black Hat: They evicted us through a presidential order, and others through a municipal order. In the end, no one knows where the order came from. Simply put, they attacked us and they threw [tear gas] bombs at us.
Man in Brown: We haven’t been here for a year. We’ve been here since 1998, when a cabilla [a wood or metal dowel used in construction] cost Bs. 1. Today, it costs Bs. 1,000. How can the government think that we can build a hut, or a house, on our salaries? They’re taking away from us what little we have. Now, we can’t exchange a hut for a home because they didn’t come here to exchange huts for homes, but they don’t have to take away from us what little we have, brother.
Woman Off-Screen: Look what Colonel Oscar Machuco [spelling?] signed. He wrote down his I.D. number. What did he tell us? We don’t know. [See below for my translation of this letter]… [Several people speak at once: they appear to be saying, “he told us we wouldn’t be affected” by the evictions].
Blurred People: … against us, who live in the Bolivarian sector. [Another woman: They took my phone because I saw a [National] Guard beating my neighbour. They even took my memory card with a lot of pictures. A man speaks and says, “Many people were robbed and beaten by the [National] Guards”. Another woman says, “Even journalists; they knocked the camera out of his hands so he couldn’t record”. The man speaks again and says, “… these people bought their computers and cameras a long time ago and they don’t have the receipts, and they took them. They stole them. The officers who were here stole them”.].
Man in Green: … Venezuela needs to know this, and so does the world, so they can see the kind of government that we have here in Venezuela. Last night, [National Assembly] Deputy Jesus Faria — he was told that on Tuesday, the National Guard came here to attack us in front of our children. There were pregnant women, and they were pushing the pregnant women. Where are the human rights that they talk about? I’m asking, because they talk about the United States, but look at how they’re attacking us. Like they say, “the people rule”. But where?
So, last night, Deputy Jesus Faria was told that they would come here today to carry out the evictions. He said that he didn’t believe that it would happen, and that as a deputy, he thought it difficult to happen. Plus, he didn’t have any information that the [National] Guard would come. Well, they came. They came at 4:00 AM. It was like an army going to war. As if we were armed – but no. The only weapons we had were candles, because they were supposed to cut off our electricity and the water.
So, they came to carry out the evictions, and now we’re being evicted without the right to shelter and without the right for the children to go to school. We have to change their schools because we can’t live here anymore. This is President Nicolas Maduro’s arbitrary government: they don’t have the [unintelligible] to treat the people properly, the same people they say in the National Assembly form the Poder Popular [the power of the people to govern]. But we don’t know where – it must be in the government they have in their minds.
Woman Off Screen: And we’re not escualidos [a deragotory term for “opposition supporter”].
Man in Green: … and we’re not escualidos, we’re Chavistas. They can check at the CNE [Consejo Nacional Electoral]. I’ve always voted for them. Starting from Chavez up to now.
At 1:51, a woman holds a letter she alleges came from what appears to be the officer in command of the eviction operation. The letter reads:
I, Oscar Machuco, Venezuelan citizen with I.D. number 1057060, bear witness that the Colina sector of the Bolivariana and La Jaguna, do not [this word looks like “usa”, which means, “uses”] the affected with the eviction of their homes since they are not included in the Hugo Chavez Frias Park project.
With nothing else to say, I bid farewell.
Signed Colonel Oscar Machuco
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