Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma appeared before a judge today nearly a year to the day he was arrested over his alleged involvement in a conspiracy against the government. Today’s preliminary hearing finally took place after being postponed ten times, and marks the formal start to the Ledezma trial.
At the hearing, prosecutors reiterated the accusation that Ledezma associated with others for the purposes of committing a crime, and that he conspired against the government. For the crimes, the prosecution argues Ledezma should be sentenced to 16 years in prison.
Ledezma’s hearing began shortly after 11:00 AM in Caracas.
The hearing is still taking place as of the writing of this post (6:00 PM Caracas time). Ledezma’s wife, Mitzy de Ledezma, said that she is not being allowed into the courtroom were the hearing is taking place.
Smolansky’s Home Broken Into
The mayor of El Hatillo and high-profile opposition figure David Smolansky denounced through Twitter last night that his house had been broken into, and that the thieves had apparently left antisemitic messages on some of his walls.
Smolansky first tweeted about the break-in at around 6:30 PM local time:
I’m just walking into my home and I see that they left this political message on a wall of my house. This is a vile attack!
The following picture accompanied the message above. The first picture reads “zionist”, and the second reads “shit, imperialist dog”. When taken together (as was the intention of the person who wrote it), the entire message rights, “You zionist shit! Imperialist dog!”:
49 Bicentenario Workers Arrested on Corruption Charger
Minister of Interior, Justice and Peace Gustavo Gonzalez gave a press conference today in which he said that 49 employees of the government-run Bicentenario supermarket were arrested following an anti-corruption investigation.
The operation, which was called “Weevil Attack”, was spread across various Bicentenario stores spread throughout the country. At the establishment in Guarenas, Miranda state, authorities discovered that three employees had hoarded “7 thousand kilograms of pork, 600 kilograms of chicken and toilet paper” that should have been sold in December.
In Monagas state, the manager and assistant manager to one store were arrested after authorities discovered backpacks stuffed with “diapers, toilet paper, pasta, margarine, shampoo and sanitary towels”, presumably ready for sale on the streets.
Torrealba: Gov’t Looking to Worsen Crisis to Ignite Violence
The head of the MUD opposition bloc, Jesus Torrealba, said in an interview yesterday that he believes that government is purposely trying to worsen the crisis in the country in the hopes of igniting a wave of violence like the one that shook the country in 2014. Torrealba cited the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia‘s decision last week to ignore the National Assembly on the matter of the economic emergency decree, as well as the recent electrical restrictions on the country’s shopping malls.
Torrealba also pointed out that while Venezuela would earn $34 billion in oil sales this year if the price of the commodity averages $30, that would not cover one third of all imports into the country in 2015:
If we import one third of what we imported last year in food and medicine, we’d be looking at $36 billion leaving the country. In other words, the math just doesn’t add for for the government to get to the end of 2016.
Speaking at a press conference earlier today, Torrealba said that he believes that the PSUV is currently considering the option of replacing Madurohttp://www.el-nacional.com/politica/Chuo-Torrealba-provocaciones-gobierno-Maduro_0_794320654.html as its head given the damage he appears to have done to the PSUV as evidenced by the result of the December 6 parliamentary elections. Torrealba said that the PSUV knows that “Maduro is toxic“.
In one analysis, we see that [the PSUV] is defeated. They were severely defeated [in December], but be careful: they still got 40% of the vote. PSUV sectors know that Maduro is in a terminal crisis, not chavismo.
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