The Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN), the country’s intelligence service, continued its campaign of issuing illegal “citations” to opposition politicians, this time in Nueva Esparta state.
Over the weekend, the SEBIN issued citations to the following opposition politicians from Margarita Island: Jose Luis Izaza, Pedro Morantes, Gabriel Alarcon, Pedro Marcano, and Richard Fermiin. Last week, the mayor of El Hatillo, David Smolansky, was also cited by the SEBIN.
The citations inform the recipients that they are under investigation by the SEBIN, and ask them to present themselves at a local SEBIN office for questioning. However, under Venezuelan law, the only institution that can investigate criminal activity is the Public Ministry through the Attorney General’s office. A police officer – such as a SEBIN agent – can only become involved in an investigation if he or she catches an individual in the act.
Today, the cited politicians in Margarita Island went to the local Public Ministry office to denounce the citations.
Last week, People’s Defender Tarek William Saab called the SEBIN citation against Smolansky “ambiguous” over its use of the word “investigation”.
Public Ministry: SEBIN Not Actually Investigating Cited Opp. Politicians
The Public Ministry’s office in Margarita Island confirmed today that the SEBIN was not in fact investigating the cited opposition politicians, and re-assured them that there was in fact no open investigation against them from the Public Ministry, either.
Henry Jaspe, the head of an NGO called Nueva Esparta en Movimiento, spoke on the Public Ministry’s confirmation that the citations carried no legal weight, saying:
This decision [by the Public Ministry] has to do with the fact that these were indeterminate citations. They didn’t say if they were being cited as witnesses or suspects.
NA Summons SEBIN Head to Congress
The National Assembly approved a measure today to summon Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez, the head of the SEBIN, to answer questions from deputies at the legislature. The date for the summons has yet to be announced.
The purpose of the summons will be for Lopez to answer over the wave of citations directed at opposition politicians.
Rodriguez Confirms Opposition, PSUV Meeting
The mayor of the Libertador municipality of Caracas, Jorge Rodriguez, confirmed today that the opposition and the PSUV have been meeting in secret recently. Although Rodriguez did not provide any additional information, the meetings between the two sides presumably deal with the recall referendum efforts against Maduro.
Rodriguez confirmed the meetings by saying:
The opposition has asked that the meetings be held in secret, and we’ve kept our word.
Rodriguez also confirmed that Maduro has appointed four people to represent the PSUV at these secret meetings with the opposition: Delcy Rodriguez, Roy Chaderton, Elias Jaua, and himself.
MUD Issues Statement, Reiterates Compromise With Recall in 2016
The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica issued a statement shortly after Jorge Rodriguez’s comments today clarifying the nature of the ongoing dialogue with the government. The statement appears to be aimed at calming opposition supporters’ fears that a dialogue with the PSUV might result in the recall referendum against Maduro being cancelled or postponed until next year.
The statement begins with the following:
The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica‘s position is one: the Venezuelan people have the right, as granted by Article 72 of the Constitution, to activate and hold the recall referendum this 2016 as a Constitutional mechanism to achieve the political change needed to end hunger, scarcity, death, and this is a right that we will defend on the streets and at the debates or dialogues that will be held.
The statement also confirms that the MUD and the PSUV have met twice “without mediators and in private”, and calls “true” dialogue with the government an absolute necessity for the welfare of Venezuela.
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