Last night, agents from the SEBIN – the national intelligence service – raided the offices of El Hatillo mayor David Smolansky, and presented him with a written citation for “violating the constitution”. The citation stems from comments Smolansky made publicly on the arrest of fellow opposition figure Yon Goicoechea, and alleged that Smolansky’s comments constitute a “lack of truth”. The citation ordered Smolansky to present himself at the SEBIN headquarters in Caracas at 11:00 AM.
The citation, seen below, reads:
I am notifying you that the Strategic Investigations Division at the National Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) has opened an investigation into events that violate, among others, Article 58 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (lack of truth) over the dissemination of false news relating to the place where citizen Yon Goicoechea is being detained in the facilities of this institution as per a judicial decision.
In this way, your comments in relation to these facts as they were published in national news media that cite you as author and contain these words [sic]: “Goicoechea is being held in a cell full of excrement in El Helicoide [the SEBIN headquarters]‘, published on the 6th [of September] on the website el-nacional.com, make it necessary to interview you, and as such Friday September 9 2016 at 11:00 AM has been scheduled for you to present yourself at this facility, located in El Helicoide, Roca Tarpeya Avenue, San Agustin Sector.
The reference to article 58 of the Constitution raised immediate red flags for Smolansky and opposition critics, since the article does not establish a duty to tell the truth, nor does it identify “lack of truth” as an offence.
More importantly, while the citation claims that the SEBIN has “opened an investigation” into Smolansky’s comments, only the Attorney General’s office has the legal power to open and conduct criminal investigations in the country. The only time that a security service like the SEBIN can initiate a criminal investigation is if it catches an individual in the act of committing a crime.
Smolansky Ignores Citation, Heads to Public Ministry Instead
This morning, Smolansky ignored the SEBIN’s citation and instead of heading to their headquarters directed himself to the Public Ministry. Once there, Smolansky submitted a document with the Ministry explaining that he was ignoring the citation because he considered it to be a very obvious trap meant to result in his arrest.
Smolansky recorded a short statement at the Public Ministry explaining his reasoning, which you can see below:
Smolansky: Just a few minutes from 11:00 AM – the time at which the SEBIN cited me with this joke [pointing at citation] to present myself at the El Helicode prison for having violated the Constitution – I am here at the Public Ministry for the second time this week to make it clear that if there is a state institution that has the ability to investigate [alleged crimes], it’s the Attorney General of the Republic’s office.
I’m being persecuted because my administration of El Hatillo is the best-rated of any small [municipality] in the country. I’m being persecuted because I come from that glorious student generation of 2007 which handed Hugo Chavez his only electoral defeat. I’m being persecuted because I’m a part of Voluntad Popular, which is a party that has not grown tired of denouncing the arbitrariness, the abuses, and the systematic violation of human rights that this regime engages in. And, I’m being persecuted because the MUD represents an alternative. My grandparents were persecuted by communists in the Soviet Union; my father was persecuted by communists in Cuba, and now I’m being persecuted by communism in Venezuela.
Let it be clear for Nicolas Maduro that there will be a recall referendum here in 2016. Here on the Urdaneta Avenue – just a short distance away from his office – I want to tell him that his days in the Miraflores Palace are numbered, that we are going to take over a country that will have freedom instead of restrictions, justice instead of impunity, and where opportunity, not uncertainty, will become abundant.
So, I am telling [the Public Ministry] that I will not fall into the trap that this joke from El Helicoide represents. I’ve already submitted a document with the Attorney General of the Republic’s office. And, today at 11:00 AM, I have an appointment in El Hatillo because I have 100,000 residents there. I will see them today as I did yesterday in the rural areas, in [Turbo?] and Sabaneta. If they [the SEBIN] want to find me, they can come get me there because I won’t fall into their trap.
I’m telling Venezuela: let us keep resisting, let us keep fighting, because democracy is about to arrive in our country.
Public Defender: Smolansky’s Citation was “Ambiguous”
Public Defender Tarek William Saab said today that the citation Smolansky received yesterday contained “ambiguities” stemming from the fact that while the SEBIN claims to be investigating Smolansky, in can in fact do no such thing.
In the [citation] that I saw I did not find any investigation opened by the Attorney General of the Republic.
Massive Blackout Plunges 6 States into Darkness
A massive blackout has left much of the country in the dark this Friday evening. The affected states, located in the west of the country, are: Portuguesa, Barinas, Apure, Tachira, Merida, Cojedes and Trujillo.
La Patilla reports that several of the states lost power at around 7:00 PM local time, and by 9:00 PM remained in the dark.
By 11:00 PM, 70% of Tachira state was once again receiving power, but progress in other states was not clear. The reason for the outage has not yet been revealed.
DEA Agent Implicates First Lady’s Brother in Drug Trafficking
A New York City judge heard testimony today from a DEA agent who claimed that First Lady Cilia Flores’ brother, Bladimir Flores, is involved in drug trafficking activities. The allegation comes as the pre-trial stage continues for Efrain and Francisco Flores, both accused of attempting to smuggle 800 kilograms of cocaine into the United States last year.
According to the agent’s testimony, a DEA information let the drug agency know that a man named Bladimir Flores was interested in sending his nephew to arrange for “airplanes carrying drugs [to fly to] Honduras” for a meeting with the undercover informant.
While the agent’s testimony implies that Bladimir was in command of the drug trafficking mission that resulted in his nephews’ arrest, that interpretation was not decidedly stated in court.
Bladimir is the current head of the CICPC, an investigate police body in Venezuela.
Zapatero Helps Free Opposition Politician
Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero helped to orchestra today’s release of opposition politician Gabriel San Miguel, a 24-year-old member of the Voluntad Popular party who was arrested on June 19 while collecting signatures in favour of the recall against Maduro.Zapatero’s involved in San Miguel’s release was confirmed by the Spanish government.
Zapatero has been attempting to act as a mediator between the opposition and the PSUV for several months now with the hopes of preventing the deteriorating situation in Venezuela from erupting in violence.
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