The National Assembly began to debate today a proposed amnesty law that would see political prisoners in the country released, including high-profile figures such as Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma.
The debate began at 3:00 PM Caracas time, and has so far included a statement from opposition deputy Delsa Solorzano, who argued that Venezuelans have a right “to live without fear” for thinking differently, and urged the country to “remove the verb ‘hate'” from their vocabulary. Solorzano also pointed out that her father was a political prisoner for 16 years.
Opposition deputy Julio Borges has also spoken on the matter, and said that he was certain that the proposed piece of legislation would be approved. Borges also said that the amnesty law would be the first step towards national reconciliation.
At the end of the session, the National Assembly voted to approve the proposal for the amnesty law, with all the PSUV deputies abstaining from the vote.
The proposal for the law would absolve students and politicians who have been charged with crimes of questionable origin as a result of their political activities. Such crimes include “associating for the purposes of comitting a crime” (which Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma have been charged with) and “terrorism”, among others.
Allup: PSUV, Army Factions Against Maduro
In his closing comments for the debate, National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup said that Maduro would not be able to prop itself up on the army and the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia indefinitely, specially as the “national reality” becomes more dire. Allup also said:
There are three military factions and four PSUV factions getting their knives ready to remove Maduro from power.
Allup also said that the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia was ready and willing to nullify any piece of legislation that came out of the National Assembly, including the amnesty law that was debated today. He reminded the court’s magistrates that “sooner or later, they’ll be held accountable”.
Speaking directly to PSUV deputy Diosdado Cabello, Allup said that his counterpart was “politically dead”, given his apparent fall from power. Cabello was previously the President of the National Assembly and arguably the most powerful man in the PSUV. Allup said:
Diosdado, you’re dead. They got rid of you and they left with you only four staff at the [PSUV] national directorate. They ran you over with a steam roller!
Cabello: Amnesty Law Won’t Happen
There will by no amnesty law here. There will be no amnesty. There will only be our homeland here. That law won’t be put into effect. There will be no freedom for murderers.
The President of Venezuela does not have the power to veto National Assembly bills. However, the nation’s top court, the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, can rule on the legality of any piece of legislation, and rule it invalid if it is found to violate any constitutional principle.
This is an attempt to take us to a civil war. That is the truth.
Minister of Economy Dismissed
Yesterday evening, Maduro announced that he had removed Luis Salas as Minister of the Economy for “personal family reasons”. He has been replaced with Miguel Perez Abad, who takes over from the Ministry of Industry. Salas held the position for a little over a month, having been appointed to the office on January 6.
Shortly after the announcement, Salas took to Twitter to explain that while the office requires a 24 hour a day commitment, “personal reasons” prevented him from dedicating himself fully to the task.
Salas’ appointment in January as head of Venezuela’s economy raised eyebrows, as previous statements appeared to suggest that he lacked even an elementary understanding of economics. Salas holds a degree in sociology from the Universidad Central de Venezuela.
Salas was an ardent adherent to the “economic war” theory, which argues that all of Venezuela’s economic problems are the result of a conspiracy between national and international private industry and media that is being directed from the United States, Spain and Colombia. Salas also wrote a book in which he argued that inflation “didn’t exist in real life”.
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