Last night, Maduro spoke on his weekly television show, En Contacto Con Maduro, and addressed some of the ramifications of the MUD’s electoral victory on Sunday.
Maduro focus a lot of attention on what is likely to be the MUD’s first piece of legislation: an amnesty law to free the country’s political prisoners. Maduro dismissed the idea out of hand, saying:
I’m saying this as the head of state: I will not accept any amnesty law because they violated human rights. That’s what I’m telling you and I’m sticking to that. I won’t sign any amnesty law. They could send me a thousand laws, but the people’s murderers must be judged and they must pay. That’s what I’m saying.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, along with national NGOs, have repeatedly outlined the gross human rights violations that occurred during the government crackdown on protesters last year. The United Nation’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has also spoken out on the issue.
One of the prosecutors in the Leopoldo Lopez case, Franklin Nieves, fled the country two months ago and has said on numerous occassions that the entire case had been fabricated and that he had been instructed to falsify evidence against Lopez to secure a conviction. Lopez was sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison in September.
According to the MUD, there are at least 50 political prisoners in the country, all of them arrested over the alleged involvement in last year’s protests.
On the possibility that the new National Assembly would call recall referendum on him next year, Maduro said:
Here’s the Constitution. If they go down the path of the recall, we will battle and the people will decide.
The Venezuelan Constitution allows for a recall referendum on the office of the President any time past the half-way point in the term. Maduro will reach the half-way point in his term next year.
Maduro’s speech took a comedic turn when he decided to read tweets people were sending him. One of the tweets was vulgar, and Maduro did not catch the insult before reading it aloud in front of the cameras:
Maduro: … here’s Richard Aguada, and he tells me, “Nicolas Maduro, help me”. “Not a single step back”, says a colleague. Then, Moises David tells me, “Nicolas Maduro, suck it!” You should suck the change you got [by electing the MUD].
Maduro Suggests Not Building Homes as Punishment
During his show, Maduro also suggested that he would stop building homes for the country’s poor as a punishment for the defeat on Sunday.
Below, a video of Maduro’s comments along with my translation:
Maduro: The homes. You already said it. The homes. I wanted to build 500,000 homes next year. I’m doubting that now. It’s not because I can’t build them – because I can – but I asked for your support and you didn’t give it to me. I asked for your support and you didn’t give it to me.
MUD: Amnesty Law not Up to Maduro
National Assembly Deputy-elect Delsa Solorzano is the head of the amnesty law project, and she responded to Maduro’s comments today. Solorzano pointed out that there is no legal way for Maduro to block legislation:
What the Constitution says is that – after following the constitutional process for making a law – the Assembly sends it to the President, who then has ten days to approve it or veto it. In either case, the National Assembly can still enact it. The law will happen because it’ll happen.
One of the MUD’s leaders, Henry Ramos Allup, also replied to Maduro’s comments, saying simply through his Twitter account that Maduro “cannot keep leaders or students in prison after the amnesty law is passed”.
Allup had harsher words for Maduro and the rest of the PSUV in an interview with Globovision earlier today. Speaking on the show Vladimir a la 1, Allup said:
The government is digging its own grave by being to stubborn. The government is crumbling.
On the possibility of Maduro stonewalling the amnesty law, Allup explained:
We’re going to draft the law. Maduro will probably send it back with corrections. The Assembly will look at it again and send it back to him again. That’s how it’ll be until it’s approved.
Allup also predicted that the PSUV’s massive defeat on Sunday will lead it to its destruction before long:
I don’t see this government reaching its natural end, which would be the next presidential elections [in 2019].
PSUV Struggling To Come to Terms with Defeat
The PSUV continued to struggle to accept the defeat it was handed at the polls by Venezuelan voters on Sunday, as party figures continue to make bizarre remarks over the event.
Yesterday, vice-president Jorge Arreaza tried to rally support for the PSUV at an event in Caracas by suggesting that supporters look to what he considers to be the real enemy:
Let’s put ourselves in President Maduro’s shoes. We can’t abandon him. We can’t just leave him all alone (…) we can’t look for traitors among the people. The enemy is the United States’ military-industrial complex, the empire.
Earlier today, a journalist on the state-owned channel ANTV suggested that Mossad, MI6 and the CIA were responsible for the defeat on Sunday. Erick Rodriguez spoke on the channel’s Hoy en Contexto show earlier today, and was asked by the host of the show why he thought the PSUV lost the election on Sunday.
Below, a video of the comments along with my translation:
Erick Rodriguez: The businessman man in Venezuela (…) there was an important role played by big, commercial importers who control their commercial chains through their corporations [unintelligilbe]. The Venezuelan Chamber of Producers distorts this and creates a distortion. Prices start to go up almost daily, which in turn generates a psychological effect on the population because it causes hoarding. Shortages take place, which then forces people to have to line up. This was a war strategy they designed with the help of Mossad, MI6 – English intelligence – and other agencies like the CIA which planned this through the [United States] Department of State and these business people to cause provokations in Venezuela. It’s important that people know this.
Padrino Lopez Denies Role in Election
Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez denied rumours that he had pressured Maduro and other PSUV leaders to accept Sunday’s results, thereby sparing the country of violent conflict.
Starting on Sunday night, rumours began to surface on social media that Padrino Lopez met with Cabello and Maduro at the Fuerte Tiuna situation room to discuss what was at the time the inevitability of the PSUV defeat. According to the rumours, Cabello was the first to suggest that the PSUV commit fraud by claiming victory. Failing that, the PSUV could call on its supporters to take to the streets and fight the results. The rumours state that Padrino Lopez stood up to Cabello at the meeting, and told him that the armed forces were ready to defend any attack against the democratic process.
When asked about the rumours by a TeleSur reported, Padrino Lopez said:
Saying that I put pressure so that [the government] would recognize the results shows a lack of respect for democracy in Venezuela.
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