Tarek William Saab, the People’s Defender, spoke to the media yesterday on a broad range of topics, including organized crime and trial times.

Saab called organized crime “more dangerous and more questionable than common crime”, and called for greater support for measures to tackle the issue. He spoke specifically on the Operacion para la Liberacion y Proteccion del Pueblo [OLP], a security operation in effect now for several weeks that has seen massive police mobilizations in different areas of the country. On the OLP, Saab said:

As an initiative, it could be and should be improved (…) when it comes to detentions, they shouldn’t be massive…

OLP operations have made headlines around the country for their scope and effect on the communities they target. On July 13, an OLP operation in the Cota 905 neighbourhood of Caracas left at least 14 people dead and 134 arrested.

Saab also spoke on the slow pace of court proceedings, calling the phenomenon “a cancer on democracy”. He called trial delays “a crime”, and called for legislation to address the problem.

Lengthy proceedings have the potential to affect everyone who comes in contact with the Venezuelan judicial system. While system overload is likely to be one of the reasons for the delays, there is likely to be a political dimension to at least some cases of judicial delays. For example,the start of Antonio Ledezma’s trial was delayed for a sixth time last week. If the trial starts as scheduled next month, Ledezma will have spent 8 months in prison already.

Airplane Ticket Sales Down 29% from Last Year

The International Air Transport Association has announced that sales of airplane tickets in Venezuela up to August of this year is down 29% from the same time period last year. According to the body’s statistics, 2,357,363 airplane tickets were sold between January and August of this year, down from 3,341,061 in the same period in 2014.

At the same time, the president of the Asociacion de Lineas Aereas de VenezuelaI [Association of Venezuelan Airlines], Humberto Figueroa, announced that the Vargas state government has suspended a planned increase of the departure tax at the Simon Bolivar International Airport had been suspended. The increase would have seen the departure tax jump from Bs. 510 to Bs. 5,100.

Military Exercises By the Numbers

Spain’s EFE provided some figures on the numbers of military personnel and equipment involved in the exercises that have been taking place this week around the country. According to the publication, 7,173 soldiers and 3,323 vehicles took part in the event.

Below, some images from this week’s exercises, which were called Campaña Patriota 2015. The pictures below appear to have been taken at an event in Falcon state:

Maduro, Granger Will Meet

A Guyanese news outlet is reporting that President David Granger and Maduro will meet in New York City today in UN Secretary General’s Ban Ki-moon’s office at 7:00 PM EST time tonight.

Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez spoke on her expectations of the meeting, saying:

Remember that this is a meeting that President Maduro requested. He came here [New York City] a few months ago and requested the Secretary General [for] Guyana the adhere to the Geneva Accord, which is the judicial mechanism that oversees everything that has to do with the territorial controversy over Guyana Esequiba (…) We have a legitimate right over Guyana Esequiba (…) we hope that President Granger’s presence here will give legitimacy to Guyana’s will to continue to address this historic issue through the 1966 Geneva Accord.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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