A human rights NGO called Proiuris has leaked the court of appeals decision that upheld Leopoldo Lopez’s conviction last week. While the result of the appeal was revealed on August 12, the actual ruling remained unreleased until today.
The decision is 185 pages long, and painstakingly addresses each one of the defenses’ grounds for appealing the sentence against Lopez and the co-accused.
In its decision, the court of appeal validated the evidence provided by prosecution witnesses, and summarizes some of the facts used to convict Lopez to nearly 14 years in prison.
Below, an excerpt from the court of appeals’ decision, taken from page 169 of the document:
We validate the testimony of citizen MARIANO ALFONSO ALI, who analyzed the speech given by citizen Leopoldo Lopez on his account twiter@LeopoldoLopez [sic] between the first of January of 1014 and the 18th of March of that same year, pointing out several criteria when it comes to the parameters [sic] that a leader must take into account at the time that they send out their messages and transmit their speeches, messages that as leaders serve to set standards of behaviour. On that topic, [Ali] indicated that citizen Leopoldo Lopez used the twitter [sic] as a tactical power since there is acceptance from the receiver which is made more massive through this medium by sending messages against the current government, ignoring its legitimacy, for example “whoever tires loses” which was retweeted, but there are other hashtags about the messages about the exit “sosVenezuela” “the delinquent state“, which were also widely disseminated. On February 12, there was a [message] that undermined state officials, some relevant adjectives were: a delinquent, murderous, drug-trafficking state, among others, which the expert considered had a message which was to reach the receiver, building a basic model of communication that is sender, medium (where the message is transmitted), message and receiver, to create an idea around a vision of a country [sic] so that it would reach his followers which at that time totaled more than 2 million 700 thousand. Another characteristic of citizen Leopoldo Lopez, is that he talks on behalf of all Venezuelans, not only does he talk in the first person, he talks for all of the opposition and he talks for all other Venezuelans who, are not part of the opposition.
Venezuelan judicial documents have come under criticism from legal scholars in recent years for their lack of clarity, frequent grammar and spelling mistakes, and overall poor quality of writing.
Guevara: Time Running Out for “Democratic Transition”
National Assembly MUD deputy Freddy Guevara spoke today on the urgent need to achieve a leadership change in the country through democratic means, and warned that the time for that type of peaceful transition may be running out.
Speaking at a roundtable event organized by an organization called Espacio Abierto [Open Space], Guevara said that Venezuela is currently at a crossroads, but that the country’s destination is not at all certain. Guevara explained:
We are without a doubt undergoing a process of change, from one stage to the next. I think that all of the conditions are present for this transition to take us to a democratic society. But, at the same time, I warn you that we’re at a crossroads that could also take us the complete opposite way. In other words (…) there isn’t a set destiny that Venezuela will reach because Chavez died, oil prices fell, people are upset, and that’s just what will happen to us.
Guevara also expressed his concern about the fact that even though there must be gubernatorial elections this year, the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE) has so far not made any kind of announcement about them. Guevara said that it was possible that the elections would simply not be held, in which he case he sees a grim future for the country:
As of today, there [aren’t elections scheduled] for December. If that’s the case, if there are no gubernatorial elections this year, then there is nothing to lead us to believe that there will be mayoral elections. If that’s the case, if there are no gubernatorial and mayoral elections, then there is nothing to lead us to believe that there will be presidential elections in 2018.
On the urgency of the matter, Guevara said:
I want to stress that there is a possibility that if we do not generate a movement of civil struggle that adheres to the principles of non-violence, of massive civil disobedience that is systematic and irreversible, then there will probably not be any democratic transition here.
PDVSA Debt Balloons $40 Billion in Two Years
Francisco Monaldi, a Latin American energy policy expert at Rice University, said in an interview today that PDVSA’s debt has ballooned to approximately $43 billion, up from $3 billion just two years ago. Monaldi blamed poor management at the state-owned oil company for the rising debt.
Monaldi also said:
This is tragic, [specially considering] that we’ve got the largest [oil reserves] in the world.
On PDVSA’s plummeting oil production, Monaldi estimates that the oil company is pumping out 250,000 fewer barrels of oil today than it was at the beginning of the year, and warned that the continued drop in production – unless corrected – would lead to an “alarming situation” for the country.
Monaldi also lamented the fact that the Venezuelan government’s fiscal strategy seems to depend entirely on a rise in oil prices, a fact that is not at all given.
Ramos Allup Most Popular Politician
A survey by the Torino Capital Group firm released today shows that National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup is the most liked politician in Venezuela, while Maduro is one of the most unpopular. Allup’s popularity has surpassed that of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles.
Below, a breakdown of the survey results regarding the popularity of political leaders:
- Henry Ramos Allup:
- Approve: 53.7%
- Disapprove: 37.9%
- Henri Falcon [Opposition, governor of Lara state):
- Approve: 51.4%
- Disapprove: 34.9%
- Leopoldo Lopez:
- Approve: 48.9%
- Disapprove: 37.9%
- Henrique Capriles:
- Approve: 47.3%
- Disapprove: 43.3%
- Nicolas Maduro:
- Approve: 21.2%
- Disapprove: 75.6%
Maduro’s overwhelming unpopularity would most likely result in a clear defeat were the recall referendum held. The same survey found that 60.3% of Venezuelans would vote to have him recalled.
The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.04%.
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