Maduro announced last night that he is going to meet Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in Quito, Ecuador on Monday. The meeting will be the first since tensions between the two countries rose after Maduro closed border crossings into Colombia and began a deportation campaign of Colombian citizens in Venezuela on August 19. Maduro announced the meeting on a televised speech, saying:
We did it! Excellent news. Next Monday, in Quito (…) I will be there in Quito shaking hands with President Santos and sitting down to get to the bottom of all of the issues on the agenda to build a new peaceful border.
I’m going with my Bolivarian spirit to Bolivarian lands. I’m going to Manuelita Saenz’s Quito, to the land of Eloy Alfaro.
Maduro also praised UNASUR and CELAC [Community of Latin American and Caribbean States] and thanked Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez, and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for facilitating the meeting.
On the meeting, Colombian Foreign Affairs Minister Maria Angela Holguin welcomed the meeting, calling it a “good opportunity” for Colombia to examine ways of becoming more “independent” from Venezuela. Holguin said:
Colombia should take advantage of this opportunity to build public policy to become independent commercially and in terms of transit and other [issues] that drift depending on how our relations are.
Maduro to Granger: Make A Decision on Our Relations
Maduro briefly turned his attention to the dispute with Guyana over the Essequibo region last night, calling on Guyanese President David Granger to “make up your mind” about what kind of relations he wants Guyana to have with Venezuela. Maduro said:
The Essequibo is ours, and we are going to defend it each time. It’s ours, even if the ultra-right wing continues to provoke us; they, on their knees before imperialism from the President’s Office in Guayana, continue to attack Venezuela.
Maduro spoke in reference to Guyana’s continued insistence that the Essequibo region belongs to them. He also took issue with a diplomatic tour of the United States by President Granger and Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge. Maduro said:
Not like this. If you’d good to us we’re very good, but if you’re bad then we’re warriors. Whoever looks for us finds us; I want Guyanese President David Granger to know this. If you look for us, you will find us. Venezuela must be respected, and I know that you’re on your knees over there before American imperialism. Make up your mind – either you want to have good relations or you carry on with your provocations. One or the other. I want to have respectful relations.
Maduro’s use of the term “if you look for us, you will find us” [si nos buscan nos encuentran] can be interpreted as a thinly veiled invitation to fight.
Tintori: Lopez Fears for His Life
Leopoldo Lopez’s wife, Lilian Tintori, said that her husband fears for his life inside the Ramo Verde prison. Speaking before members of the Madrid Press Association in Spain, Tintori said that she spoke with Lopez on September 11, one day after he was sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison in the Ramo Verde military jail. During the conversation, Tintori says that Lopez told her:
I feel like they want to murder me because they have absolute control over me. They lock me up, they open up my cell door whenever they want, and they have all control over my food. They can poison me.
Lopez’s lawyer, Juan Carlos Gutierrez, stressed yesterday that his client is undergoing inhumane treatment at the Ramo Verde prison:
They’re trying to damage Lopez’s mental and physical well-being. In Ramo Verde, his rights have been violated. He was changed to another cell abruptly, something the prison’s director considers to be normal. They throw his things on the ground and they cut off electricity whenever they want. We won’t discount the possibility that they could be capable of worse things, which is why we’re raising the alarm.
Vargas Llosa: Lopez Sentence “Absurd, Crazy and Unjustified”
Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa spoke out against Lopez’s sentence yesterday at a press conference in the Universidad de Salamanca in Spain. Vargas Llosa also said that with the verdict, the Venezuelan government “has removed its mask”:
This verdict was expected given the regime that rules over Venezuela. It is a dictatorship (…) characterized by the disappearance of the free press and the nationalization of television and radio [stations] to gain absolute control over what the country thinks.
Vargas Llosa also criticized Latin American countries who have not spoken out against the crisis of democracy in Venezuela, calling their “neutral” stance on the matter “a simple, pure shame”.
Capriles Dares Maduro to Visit Border
Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles dared Maduro through Twitter yesterday to visit the border areas under states of exception. In a series of tweets, Capriles mocked Maduro’s manner of dress and apparent unwillingness to visit the areas affected by the state of exception:
Nicolas is in pajamas from the “Command Centre”. This man does not want to get out of the air conditioning! Take a stroll through the municipalities under the state of exception!
Try, @nicolasmaduro, to show your face to the people in each one of the municipalities that you irresponsibly placed under a state of exception!
This man doesn’t even know that municipalities that are affected by the state of exception. All the more reason to seek change there and in all Venezuela!
Cabello Warns of Defamation Campaign Against Barreiros
Speaking on his television show Con El Mazo Dando last night, National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello warned that right-wing elements were launching a defamation campaign on social media against Susana Barreiros, the judge who sentenced Leopoldo Lopez and three students last week.
The fascists at Voluntad Popular, starting on Friday September 11, started to spread offensive messages and threats on social media against the judge in the Leopoldo Lopez case.
Cabello praised Barreiros for “making a decision based on what was there, what was presented”.
People’s Defender: Coello is a “Fugitive”
People’s Defender Tarek William Saab spoke yesterday on the Marco Coello case. When asked about allegations Coello made on a CNN interview that he was tortured while in detention, Saab said:
It’s complicated to take a complaint from someone who is under sub judice [literally, “under judgement”, on trial] and is not in the country (…) the complaint is made outside the country, and he makes it as a fugitive from justice. [Coello] is someone who should show himself before a court but did not do so, [instead] he showed himself before an international television channel.
Saab said that his office was “willing” to receive Coello’s complaints, as long as they were submitted through the appropriate bureaucratic channels.
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