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National Assembly deputy and PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello spoke today on comments by United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon last week that Venezuela was experiencing a “humanitarian crisis” due to the chronic shortage of food, medicine, and other basic necessities.

Cabello was terse on the secretary general’s comments. On a speech televised on the state-owned VTV network, Cabello suggested that Ki-moon was unfairly singling out Venezuela for criticism. Cabello said:

Are there problems? Of course there are problems, Mr. Ban Ki-moon. But there are countries that have more problems – many more – and you don’t say anything.

Saab: No Crisis in Venezuela; Country Rightful MERCOSUR President

People’s Defender Tarek William Saab chimed in on the ongoing observations by opposition members and international experts and organisations alike that there is a humanitarian crisis underway in Venezuela by denying the assertions.

For Saab, the matter is simple: since the United Nations has not officially declared a humanitarian crisis in the country, no crisis exists. At the same time, Saab was clear that the country is experiencing a very difficult economic reality, saying:

I want to make it clear that [I have not stopped] saying that there is an economic emergency in Venezuela, which was decreed by the Executive himself [Maduro], and measures are already being taken.

On the ongoing controversy over Venezuela’s MERCOSUR presidency, Saab shot back at critics who claim that Venezuela took on the role of president de facto – that is, without any kind of consensus from the rest of the organisation. Saab explained that this was not the case by saying:

Venezuela did not obtain the MERCOSUR presidency de facto. Uruguay handed over the presidency to the country that follows it in alphabetical order, according to the rules (…) In fact, Uruguay did not object when handing the presidency over to Venezuela.

While Uruguay supports Venezuela heading the organisation for the next six months, MERCOSUR’s other members – namely Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay – have voiced their rejection of the move loudly, citing Venezuela’s continued human rights abuses and catastrophic mismanagement of the economy.

Brazil: Maduro Heads “Authoritarian Regime”

Brazil’s rhetoric on the MERCOSUR crisis and its view of its northern neighbour reached new heights yesterday, as Brazilian Foreign Affairs Minister Jose Serra said that Venezuelans live under an “authoritarian regime” and that as such, Venezuela cannot be the leader of MERCOSUR.

Serra made the comments during a meeting with National Assembly deputy Luis Florido, who heads the legislature’s foreign affairs committee. During the meeting, Serra said:

Venezuela lives under an authoritarian regime, not a democratic [one], because a country that has political prisoners isn’t democratic.

This, along with the fact that Venezuela has not met the requirements to be a full member of MERCOSUR, mean for Serra that the country cannot act as the organisation’s leader. According to Serra, some of the requirements that Venezuela has not met for MERCOSUR membership include human rights and free transit standards.

Maduro has claimed that the bloc’s resistance to its presidency represent a right-wing “capitalist” attack against Venezuela.

Serra observed that in his opinion, Maduro is obviously trying to delay the recall referendum against him so that when he loses he can leave the vice president in charge. In order for that mechanic to come into play, the referendum must be held on or after January 10, 2017.

Leopoldo Lopez Transported to Appeal Court

Leopoldo Lopez was taken to Caracas’ Court of Appeals earlier this morning. The purpose of the trip was for Lopez to hear the court’s justification in refusing to grant his appeal to his nearly 14-year sentence over his involvement in the 2014 anti-government protests.

While the court announced its decision last week, it did not provide any form of justification at that time. Two days ago, an NGO called Proiuris leaked the 185-page decision.

Below, an image of a handcuffed Lopez being led into the courtroom this morning:

CqJLjMMXgAQbXYZ.jpg

Lopez’s legal team has already announced that they will appeal the appeal court’s decision with the court of cassation, which will give Lopez one last chance to see his conviction overturned.

Amnesty International Issues Statement on Lopez

Erika Guevara, the Director for the Americas at Amnesty International, spoke in a short video published to Leopoldo Lopez’s YouTube account today on his case.

Below, the video, along with my translation:

Guevara: During the trial, [the prosecution] did not president credible evidence of the government’s accusations against Leopoldo. Leopoldo is clearly in prison for political reasons. Leopoldo is recognised by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience who must be freed immediately and unconditionally.


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