A court has released the legal decision in the trial of Leopoldo Lopez and three students, but neither Lopez’s lawyers or the media have been given proper access to it, reports El Nacional. The newspaper says that it was able to “superficially examine” the nearly 300 page decision in a Caracas courtroom over the weekend, and that Lopez’s lawyers are planning to appeal.
El Nacional reports that the Court’s decision is less than 30 pages long, although the section is supposed to include all of the reasons and justifications for the verdict.
One of Lopez’s lawyers, Juan Carlos Gutierrez, got a chance to read the document and called the Court’s arguments “weak”. He said that nowhere in the decision is the evidence for the crimes of arson and associating to commit a crime every made clear, two charges on which Lopez was convicted. Moreover, Gutierrez says that expert testimony on Lopez’s speeches and tweets hand-picks out-of-context statements that refute the testimony of witnesses.
Gutierrez also denounced the fact that while the decision had been officially published, the defense had not been given a copy of the document. This is important because the defense has ten days to appeal, out of which one has already passed.
ALBA Voted Worst Latin American Organization
A survey by Ipsos Public Affairs polled 317 journalists in 16 Latin American countries found that the Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra America (Bolivarian Alliance for our American People) [ALBA] is the worst-rated organization in the region. 55% of respondents view ALBA unfavourably.
UNASUR fared similarly, with 45% of respondents saying they did not approve of the way the organization has developed.
In contrast, respondents rated the Comision Economica para America Latina [Latin American Economic Commission] and the Banco Interamericano de Desarollo [Inter-American Development Bank] very highly.
Maduro: December 6 Elections “Toughest” in PSUV History
Speaking at an event in Caracas yesterday, Maduro appeared to concede that the December 6 parliamentary elections might be the “toughest” since the PSUV came to power in Venezuela.
Maduro called for unity among his supporters, saying:
It’s not time for sectarianism, it’s time for a great popular union to build a difficult victory on December 6 (…) There are no predestined victories here. They must be forged, built, and then enjoyed. We have a tremendous battle head of us on December 6. On December 6, we will decide if there we have peace and a homeland.
In a rare move, Maduro appeared to concede that some Venezuelans are not happy with his term in office, saying:
The people on the street might be angry, but they know that a Bolivarian man is an honest man. We cannot underestimate that advantage. We have an advantage in these elections, a moral advantage. We need a great victory to show the path, to absolutely and profoundly get at the root of the elements of the economic war.
Gov’t, Makro Strike Distribution Deal
Capital District Chief Juan Carlos Dugarte has announced that the national government has struck a deal with supermarket giant Makro to provide stock for 1,300 convenience stores in Caracas. The move is supposed to make it easier for Venezuelans to find basic necessities in their local community stores, rather than having to visit a handful of major supermarkets. Dugarte said:
People won’t have to go to the great [supermarket] chains. They’ll be able to find [items] in their own sectors.
Dugarte also charged members of the brigadas populares [popular brigades] and consejos comunales [communal councils] to ensure the prices are sold at fair prices mandated by the government.
Nelson Davila, the president of Makro, welcomed the movie, saying:
This will allow the distribution of products in an equal and safe manner and at fair prices for businesses big and small.
CEPAL Sees Economy Shrink 6.7% in 2015
The Comision Economica para America Latina y el Caribe [Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean] (CEPAL) calculates that Latin America’s economy will shrink 0.3% in 2015, while Venezuela’s will suffer a 6.7% decline. CEPAL expects Brazil to be the second-worst performing country in the region, with an economic decrease of 2.8%.
Conviasa Cancels 12,000 Tickets to Madrid, Buenos Aires
Conviasa, a state-owned airline, has cancelled 12,000 tickets out of the Simon Bolivar International Airport in Maiquetia to Madrid and Buenos Aires after an alleged computer bug placed the tickets on sale erroneously over the past two weeks.
Some of the affected travelers told the newspaper that they received phone calls from Conviasa over the weekend explaining the situation, and offering to return the money for the ticket within 90 days. At least some of the travelers are upset because they told the airline that they did not want their money back, only a rescheduling of the cancelled ticket.
At the moment, it appears that flights heading into those two locations until December have been affected.
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