The Maduro government is maintaining pressure on the opposition on the eve of what is expected to be one of the largest protests in the country’s history. Earlier today, Minister of the Interior General Ernesto Reverol announced that Voluntad Popular [Popular Will] (VP) politician Lester Toledo is wanted on terrorism charges.
The announcement follows several days of arrests and intimidation of opposition leaders. On Saturday, San Cristobal mayor Daniel Ceballos was taken from his home where he was serving house arrest and taken to prison. On Monday, VP politician Yon Goicoechea was dragged out of his vehicle by SEBIN agents and taken to an undisclosed location where he remains to this day. Yesterday, Carlos Melo, the head of the Avanzada Progresista party, was also arrested by SEBIN agents.
Reverol specified that Toledo is wanted for “financing terrorism and for associating to commit a crime”.
The minister also warned that more arrests were possible, depending on how the protest in Caracas played out tomorrow:
We’re not discounting other detentions with what is going to happen with some of these violent ultra-right wing elements in Venezuela that are trying to create chaos in the country.
Goicoechea’s Whereabouts Still Unknown
Yon Goicoechea’s wife, Rosaura Valentini, said through her husband’s Twitter account that 45 hours after Yon’s disappearance, she has no idea where he is nor has she heard from anyone confirming his detention. For this reason, Valentini said that she considers that her husband has been the victim of a “kidnapping”.
Valentini also explained explained that Yon’s disappearance persists even though his lawyers have filed all of the necessary paperwork to force the authorities to disclose his whereabouts:
His lawyers have taken all of the necessary steps at the [People’s Defender’s office], the tribunals and the [Public Ministry]. We don’t know how my husband is doing.
Maduro Warns of Lawsuit Against Allup
In a televised speech that aired earlier today, Maduro threatened “national and international” legal action against National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup. Maduro made the threat by saying that he was commissioning an expert panel to assess Allup, saying:
[I am assembling a panel of] legal experts, psychiatrists and psychologists so that they can do a study and we can work on a national and international lawsuit against the racist, violence, and fascist speech of Henry Ramos Allup against the institutions, the people and the history which we are living.
Maduro also launched into a bizarre tangent, and promised that he would not let racism rule over Venezuela:
I will not accept a racism like the one in Rwanda to be introduced to Venezuela. Ramos Allup has already stepped over the line (…) Ramos Allup is the head of a fascist campaign of hatred that promoted violence in the country. That’s why I’ve called on national and international jurists, psychiatrists and psychologists to work on this lawsuit, because we have to avoid a bloodbath in Venezuela that is the result of fascists attacks from people like this who plant hatred (…) with every word and every intention. We cannot allow this.
Maduro did not provide any concrete information regarding this panel.
Maduro Freezes Relations With Brazil Over Dilma Ruling
Following news out of Brazil that the country’s Senate had officially removed Dilma Roussef from power, Maduro announced the recall of Venezuela’s ambassador in that country and ordered a review of all relations with its southern neighbour.
Maduro called Roussef’s impeachment “a parliamentary coup d’etat“, and called the country’s new government illegitimate.
Security Forces Prepare for Toma de Caracas
State security forces in Caracas today were busy preparing for tomorrow’s opposition protest in the city.
Below, an image taken earlier today near Plaza Venezuela. The image appears to show both National Bolivarian Police and National Guard units marshaling for the protest tomorrow:
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