The head of security at the National Assembly and Henry Ramos Allup’s chief bodyguard, Coromoto Rodriguez, is currently being held in detention without charges after the Public Ministry failed to charge him with any crime. Rodriguez was arrested on his way home from work by SEBIN officers earlier this week.
Yesterday afternoon, Allup spoke on Rodriguez’s case at the National Assembly as news of the fact that he would not be charged with any crime began to spread. Allup said that the reason why no charges were laid against Rodriguez is because the police warrant used to arrest him had been falsified. Allup explained:
The police document with which they tried to charge him was issued on Monday, and it referenced events that happened on Wednesday, two days later. This document doesn’t have a single signing officer: no officer can be identified, and that’s why the Public Ministry abstained from laying charges.
However, hopes that Rodriguez would be released from custody were dashed when judge Magdalena Diaz issued an order to keep Rodriguez in SEBIN custody, where he remains today. Judge Diaz issued her order at 2:00 AM this morning.
Journalist Nelson Bocaranda reported this morning that judge Diaz’s order accuses Rodriguez of committing homicide, thereby necessitating his detention. The highly unusual maneuver means that Rodriguez was arrested for one crime, not charged with a crime, and while still in detention – when he should have been freed – has was accused (but not yet charged) of another crime.
Allup’s wife, Diana D’Agostino, reacted to the news of Rodriguez’s extended detention by saying that the judge had “invented” the accusation in order to obey an order from “above” to keep Rodriguez in prison by any means necessary.
Rodriguez is being held in detention by the SEBIN, Venezuela’s intelligence service.
OAS Emergency Meeting on Venezuela Imminent
El Nuevo Herald reported today that the secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, is preparing to call an emergency meeting of the body to consider whether or not Venezuela has ceased to be a democratic state. The meeting could take place as early as next week.
El Nuevo Herald cites an anonymous source inside the OAS as saying that the organization is working to finish compiling a report outlining the violations against the law and human rights at the Maduro administration has committed. The newspaper quotes the source as saying that the report is nearly finished, and that:
[The report] is really shocking (…) [it provides evidence] of the crippling misfortune created by an amoral regime that is willing to sacrifice tens of thousands of lives and the future of millions in order to remain in power.
Almagro confirmed the news himself earlier today to reporters at the OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C., saying that he would present the finished report to the organization’s members by next week “at the latest”.
Roger Noriega, a former United States diplomat, told El Nuevo Herald that it is likely that Almagro believes that there is more than enough evidence to sanction Venezuela due to Maduro’s continued abuses:
I believe that the secretary general has concluded that the situation in Venezuela has become so dangerous and the constitutional order has been damaged so severely that he is justified in invoking Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
The Inter-American Democratic Charter is a documented signed by governments on the American continent – including Venezuela – that outlines their adherence to respect for human rights and constitutional order. Article 20 of the Charter allows for the suspension from the OAS of any signatory found to be in contravention of the Charter.
Noriega said that were the OAS to invoke Article 20 against Venezuela, the rest of the continent would have to “begin to face the reality in Venezuela”.
Almagro confirmed the possible attempt to invoke Article 20 against Venezuela, saying:
We are going to present the report along with a note in which he will make direct reference to Article 20 of the Charter. But, if you read the Article, the topic passes on to the consideration of the permanent council immediately.
The OAS’ permanent council – made up of the organization’s individual member states – must vote on whether or not to sanction a member state via Article 20.
El Nacional reports that it is likely that the OAS will call for the meeting to consider Venezuela’s status within the next 48 hours.
Student Released After Being Held Incommunicado for 95 Hours
A 21-year-old student named Christian Manrique re-appeared today in Caracas after disappearing on May 20. Manrique had been arrested and held incommunicado by authorities over the past five days, although no on informed either his relatives or his lawyer, leaving them to guess his whereabouts.
A tweet by Minister of Justice Gustavo Gonzalo Lopez sent on Friday said that Manrique had been arrested. However, when his mother – Elizabeth Habanero – and human rights lawyer Joce Vicente Haro set out to look for him in different police offices in Caracas, they found no trace of him. Over the weekend, the pair checked the SEBIN, National Bolivarian Police, and CICPC headquarters, along with courthouses in the city, but no one had any record of Manrique or his arrest.
Haro filed a writ of habeas corpus with a Caracas court on Monday, which demands that the authorities literally “show the body”. He claims that while the motion was important to securing Manrique’s release, his client “shows signs of torture and abuse”.
Opposition Rallies Against TSJ Partisanship
Opposition demonstrators rallied outside of the offices of the Corte Segunda de lo Contencioso Administrativo [Second Court for Administrative Contention] at the Impres building in Caracas today to protest what they consider to be extreme partisanship in favour of the PSUV by the nation’s courts, specially the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ).
More specifically, the demonstration was staged in response to a ruling issued last week banning protests around the headquarters of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) in Caracas.
Opposition leaders spoke at the demonstration, including Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles.
Below, some images from the demonstration in Caracas:
Capriles speaking to the crowd in Caracas:
Similar demonstrations took place in other cities of the country. Below, a march in Maturin, Monagas state:
In Merida, demonstrators attempted to submit a complaint at a local judicial administration building, but were prevented from doing so by National Guard soldiers:
In Maracaibo, Zulia state, demonstrators did reach the city’s TSJ building:
Rector Hernandez: Step 2 Of Referendum Could Begin June 2
CNE rector Socorro Hernandez announced yesterday that the second step of the recall referendum process against Maduro – where everyone who signed during step 1 must verify that authenticity of their signatures – will begin “around” June 2.
Hernandez made the announcement yesterday, and called on Venezuelans to remain calm throughout the process as the CNE faces accusations that it is deliberately delaying the referendum in order to help keep Maduro in power. Hernandez said:
We’re in a moment that is very complicated for all Venezuelans. It’s necessary to trust our institutions, that we trust what the CNE is doing. We’re absolutely not doing anything that isn’t [allowed for] the electoral power.
Part of the reason why opposition supporters have accused the CNE of stonewalling the recall referendum process is due to how long it is taking, with some CNE rectors refusing to even speculate if it could take place this year.
When Hugo Chavez died on March 5, 2013, the CNE successfully organized a successful presidential election barely a month later, on April 14.
After Chavez announced on November 30, 2008 that he was considering an amendment to the constitution removing presidential term limits, the CNE organized the referendum and held it on February 15 2009, just two and a half months later.
Venezuela Selling Gold for Cash
The International Monetary Fund revealed yesterday that Venezuela has sold $1.7 billion worth of its gold reserves in the first quarter of this year, selling “over 40 tonnes in February and March” alone.
Financial Times reports that 70% of Venezuela’s reserves – which dropped to $12.1 billion last week – are gold.
The continued low oil prices has forced Venezuela to increasingly look to its gold holdings for cash. Out of the last five quarters, Venezuela has been the world’s top gold seller for four.
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