The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani announced today that the Venezuelan government has been refusing visas to observers from the human rights organizations for at least two years. Shamdasani said:

[The OHCHR] has asked repeatedly for visas to visit the country, but it has been unable to obtain them since 2014.

Since the OHCHR does not have any staff in Venezuela, the organization’s Santiago de Chile office also serves as the Venezuelan office. The UN representative who would be in charge of the Venezuelan office were it actually located in Venezuela, Amerigo Incalcaterra, has been unable to make an official visit to the country due to the visa denials.

Shamdasani said that the OHCHR is worried about the situation in the country “because violence and insecurity are on the rise”, and that it is aware of the scarcity crisis affecting food, medicine and basic necessities.

Vielma Mora Saddened By Venezuelan’s Pictures

Tachira state governor Jose Vielma Mora spoke today about pictures that have surfaced on social media showing Venezuelans posing for photographs with Colombian Military Police and other authorities on their trip to Cucuta this past weekend.

During a radio show earlier today, Vielma Mora said:

It’s so sad that Venezuelans would kneel before and pose with foreign authorities.

Vielma Mora also downplayed the fact that the tens of thousands of Venezuelans who crossed into Colombia over the weekend through Tachira did so to buy food, pointing out that “some people crossed to visit family in Colombia”.

Cabello Withdraws WSJ Lawsuit

Ultimas Noticias reported today that PSUV vice-president and National Assembly deputy Diosdado Cabello has withdrawn a libel lawsuit against the Wall Street Journal over a May 18 2015 article that linked Cabello with a powerful drug cartel operating out of Venezuela.

The news comes from Miami Diario, which claims that one of Cabello’s lawyers, Gary R. Redish, filed paperwork with the New York South District Court withdrawing the lawsuit “without prejudice”, meaning that Cabello could file another lawsuit against the publication in the future.

While Cabello has dropped the lawsuit against the Wall Street Journal, he has not dropped it against the newspaper’s parent company, Dow Jones & Company. That suit is expected to reach court some time in September.

The Wall Street Journal article is titled “Venezuelan Officials Suspect of Turning Country into Global Cocaine Hub”. The article claims that at the time, Cabello was at the centre of a U.S. investigation into a powerful drug cartel, and quoted a Justice Department official as saying:

There is extensive evidence to justify that he [Cabello] is one of the heads, if not the head, of the cartel.

Faria: Venezuela Isn’t Socialist

Minister of Foreign Commerce Jesus Faria clarified Venezuela’s political ideology situation in an interview that aired on a TeleSur show called Siete Preguntas last night.

Faria was pressed to answer criticism that Venezuela’s current socio-political situation is evidence that Chavez’s “Socialism of the 21st Century” has failed. Faria explained that this was not the case, because Venezuela is not a socialist country: rather, it is a country gearing up for socialism.

Faria said:

We’re just at the very beginning stages of creating a future socialist model. So, something that doesn’t exist cannot have failed. Some of our compatriots fall into that error. They talk about the case of socialism in Venezuela. That’s not the case. We’re applying socialist policies in some very important areas, but we still have the same society and the same economy: capitalist, rentier, dependent, underdeveloped. The great task of this historic project is to overcome these serious deficiencies and move the nation down a different path that is oriented towards socialism.

Faria also said that the Venezuelan state is “bourgeois… corrupt and bureaucratized”, which is a remnant of the Fourth Republic [the era before Chavez became president in 1998].

Solorzano: 1,000+ Fired for Signing Recall Referendum Petition

National Assembly MUD deputy Delsa Solorzano announced today that her office is aware of at least 1,000 citizens who were fired from their jobs in the civil service after signing in favour of a recall referendum against Maduro earlier this year. Solorzano is the president of the National Assembly’s Internal Politics Commission.

Solorzano also said that some of the fired employees came from SENIAT [the revenue agency], CORPOELEC [the national electrical company], the National Bolivarian Police.

Solorzano said:

They were fired for exercising their right. We’d like to highlight the cases of union leaders and women who had just given birth, who were lactating, and other who were [fired while they were] pregnant. We’re talking about more than 1,000 people who can’t bring food to their homes, but also about 1,000 people who have demonstrated that they are not afraid.

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