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Speaking in a televised speech last night, Maduro dared the opposition to take to the streets in protest against his administration, and referenced recent events in Turkey. Maduro said that were the Venezuelan opposition to try to remove him from power, Turkish President Recep Erdogan would “look like a child” in comparison to what would be his response against the opposition.

With the comment, Maduro referenced Erdogan’s ruthless crackdown on political opponents following last month’s coup attempt. Since the failed coup, Erdogan has arrested thousands of peoplefired tens of thousands of teachers, and has hinted at a return of the death penalty to execute those who stand against him.

Last night, Maduro spoke on the possibility that the opposition would try to “heat up the streets” with protests against him. Speaking on how his response to such protest would compare to that of President “Endorgan”, Maduro said:

Do you know what happened in Turkey? Endorgan [sic] is going to look like a child in comparison to what the Bolivarian revolution will do if the right-wing crosses the border into a coup again. I’m not not just saying that just because: I’m ready to do it! and I don’t care what the [Organization of American States] says, what North American imperialism says. I don’t care what imperialism says! I dare you – the working class is here!

The opposition has called for a massive demonstration in Caracas on September 1. The head of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, Jesus Torrealba, recently said that the protest that day would be unlike any other, and that he hopes that it will go down in history as one of the largest in Venezuelan history.

Carvajal Denies He’s Getting Ready to Bail

National Assembly PSUV deputy Hugo Carvajal addressed reports that he had changed his last name and that of his family in recent days, possibly in preparation for fleeing the country and attempting to live abroad undercover. Carvajal acknowledged that he had indeed changed his family’s last name to Peck Peck, but denied suggestions that he did so for some clandestine reason.

 

Carvajal explained that back in the 1980s, his grandfather died, triggering some kind of family struggle over his will. This struggle involved confirming paternity for Carvajal’s father, a case which apparently lay dormant until 2012 when Carvajal says that his parents re-activated the proceedings. With the issue of the family lineage having been resolved, Carvajal and his family began the process of taking on his grandfather’s last name: Peck.

Carvajal said:

My parents activated their claims in 2012 at the Anzoategui Judicial Circuit, and that started the process of fixing the birth certificates. That’s why I have the two last names. This doesn’t mean that I have dual citizenship, since I still have the name [national] ID number. I don’t use the new last name. I have been, will be and am Hugo Carvajal.

Carvajal has been accused by U.S. authorities of being a key player in an international drug cartel operating within the highest levels of the Venezuelan army. Two years ago, while Carvajal was in Curacao awaiting confirmation of his assignment as Venezuela’s ambassador to the island, he was arrested at the request of U.S. authorities in connection to his alleged links to the drug trade.

After a tense standoff lasting several hours that involved Venezuelan warships moving on Curacao, the island nation relented and released Carvajal to Venezuela before he could be extradited to the United States.

Ledezma Marks 1.5 Years in Detention

Caracas mayor and opposition leader Antonio Ledezma has now been under arrest for one and a half years. He was arrested on February 19, 2015 after the Maduro government alleged that he was involved in a conspiracy to overthrow the government. Apple has confirmed that key pieces of digital evidence used to accuse Ledezma were tampered with and/or fabricated, but the legal proceedings against him continue.

Mitzy Capriles, Ledezma’s wife, spoke today on the meaning of the date, saying:

This means a year and a half of deep pain, living through the injustice suffered by the city of Caracas by having him under arrest for no real reason to justify this arbitrary detention (…) It’s hard to see a great man like Antonio Ledezma deprived of his freedom, and how they [the government] turn your house into a jail.
We will not falter. We will continue to stand in this struggle until we restore our democracy, and until there are no more political prisoners in our country.

Originally held in the Ramo Verde military prison outside of Caracas, Ledezma was allowed to be detained in his home following health issues he experienced on May 1. He remains under house arrest pending his trial.

Lopez Speaks on Appeal Denial

Leopoldo Lopez’s legal team released a statement from their client yesterday. The statement is allegedly the words Lopez spoke at a hearing this week during which an appeals court explained to him why they had upheld his 14-year prison sentence.

Below, Lopez’s statement:

On this sentence, I’d like to say that I did not expect any better in terms of the quality of moral and legal reasoning that the magistrates of this court were going to provide. After reading the content [of the decision], I remain convinced that its ethical and legal contents have been replaced by the illegitimate and cowardly orders from the highest levels of this corrupt regime. This is evidence of one of the most serious diseases affecting the Venezuelan justice system: the lack of independence and discretion of judges, because if there is no justice that is autonomous and adherent to the constitution and the law then there is no rule of law. If there is no rule of law, then there is no democracy, and unfortunately this situation is evidenced by this sentence.

I am sure that within the Venezuelan justice system there are honest Venezuelans who do not agree with what has happened here today, but they are limited in how they can act. The judges and magistrates who could today be the light of justice, the voice in the silence and bring justice to so much injustice that exists in Venezuela have instead chosen economic benefits. They have chosen submission to a regime that has halted judicial reasoning and logic, and before all else the truth and justice.

This is yet another piece of evidence of how rule of law – the backbone of the Republic –  has been broken in Venezuela. At the hands of these magistrates, this decision shows how justice has been kidnapped in Venezuela. It shows how democratic tolerance has been replaced by insecurity, scarcity, inflation and the suffering of Venezuelans. By signing this sentence, I stress once again the very same words for which I was sentenced to almost 14 years in prison.

We Venezuelans have to go out and win democracy, and it’s worth pointing out that these are the only words cited in this disappointing sentence. I once again stress my conviction to peaceful protest, to changing our government peacefully and to creating a better Venezuelan where the rights of all are respected, without corrupt judges or magistrates who stomp on and ruin the rule of law. I want to re-affirm that aside from having been the victim of this unjust sentence that has no judicial basis, I am also a victim of hatred, of the cruelest treatment, of what the very director of Ramo Verde [the prison in which Lopez is being held] has described as “throwing acid on your face”, which is none other than permanent harassment against me that has taken place during my time in the prison.


Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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