Yesterday, Franklin Nieves – one of the prosecutors on the Leopoldo Lopez case – released a video saying that he had been pressured by the President’s office and his superiors at the Public Ministry to make false accusations against Lopez.
In the video, Nieves said that he had left Venezuela with his family, and that “distress” he felt over the case forced him to tell the truth.
Below, Nieves’ statement, along with my translation:
Franklin Nieves: I’m Frankling Nieves, National-level No. 41 attorney for the Public Ministry con competencia plena [I think this means something like, “I have full powers”]. I was one of the prosecutors who presented the accusations against Leopoldo Lopez, who was sentenced to and is today held in the Ramo Verde prison in Los Teques.
I decided to leave Venezuela with my family due to the pressure the national executive and my superiors were putting [on me] to continue to defend the false evidence used to sentence Leopoldo Lopez. This continuation was necessary in order to contest the appeal and defend the sentence handed by the trial judge. Those who know me know the distress I felt — I didn’t sleep — due to the pain and the pressure on me to continue with a farce, to continue with that trial, violating the rights of this person. Those who know me and love me know that starting this moment, they’re going to hear attacks and lies against me because I didn’t want to continue to go along with this farce.
To my friends who are judges and prosecutors: I ask you to tell the truth, as I am. I want to do the right thing, lose my fear and do the right thing. I want you to be brave, raise your voices and make your discontent known over the pressure our superiors — threatening with firing us, sending us to prison, and all those absurd claims they make to threaten us so that we can carry out their whims.
If something happens to me or my family, the national executive and my superiors will be responsible. I found out that they’ve launched an investigation to make some false allegations not against Leopoldo Lopez, but against me.
To all Venezuelans: Later, I will be providing every detail about what happened before, during and after the Leopoldo Lopez trial.
Rumors that Nieves had “disappeared” surfaced on Twitter on October 22, after accused persons in cases belonging to Nieves reported that the prosecutor had not been seen since at least October 19.
Lopez’s Lawyer, Mother React
Juan Carlos Gutierrez, Leopoldo Lopez’s lawyer, reacted to Nieves’ statements by calling on the sentence against his client to be “revoked” and for Lopez to be released immediately.
Antonieta Mendoza, Lopez’s mother, took to Twitter in response to the Nieves video, and also called for her son’s release. Mendoza said:
Leopoldo Lopez must be freed after prosecutor Franklin Nieves said he was forced to accuse him.
International Reserves Down 30% in 2015
Venezuela’s international reserves have fallen by 30% this year, placing them at the same level they were about 12 years ago. Between January and October of this year, Venezuela has lost $6.775 billion. The country currently has approximately $15.3 billion in international reserves.
Roger Chacin, an economist, told El Nacional:
It’s always been said that the optimal international reserve level is around $25-30 billion dollars (…) but the reality in Venezuela is very different. Once loan due dates for the state approach, that amount could go down even more.
Chacin said that Venezuela has a $10.3 billion dollar foreign debt obligation to settle next year, and a $10.7 billion payment due in 2017.
Venezuela’s foreign reserves reached their peak in 2008, when they were estimated to be $43 billion dollars.
RunRun.es: Tracking Grenades Used in Attacks Complicated
The news website RunRun.es published an article yesterday in which it attempts to she light on a string of grenade attacks against police officers over past month or so come from the a company called Venezolana de Industrias Militaries (CAVIM).
The website cites an employee of the company saying that Venezuela has not imported grenades in 15 years. In other words, all of the grenades in the country are the ones that were imported prior to 2000, and the ones made by CAVIM.
The employees also told the website that the company only provides grenades to the four institutional bodies allowed to use them: 1) the National Bolivarian Armed Forces and the Bolivarian Militia, 2) the Navy, 3) the Air Force, and 4) the National Guard and Militia.
The article hypothesizes that the explosives might be leaking out of the military through unscrupulous personnel, and that a grenade can sell on the streets of Caracas for anywhere between Bs. 60,000-130,000, depending on the type.
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