Earlier today, MERCOSUR removed Venezuela from the presidency of the organization, and essentially set a deadline on the country’s suspension from the regional trade bloc. The move comes after weeks of controversy at the organization after Venezuela took over the presidency from Uruguay. MERCOSUR’s other members – Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay – strongly objected to Venezuela’s presidency on account of the country’s tattered human rights and economic record.

Today’s announcement revealed that Argentina, Brazil,  and Paraguay have all agreed that Venezuela cannot head MERCOSUR, and have instead decided to share the presidency together for the next six months. Uruguay, traditionally an ally of Venezuela, abstained from the vote. 

MERCOSUR also announced that it was giving Venezuela until December 1 of this year to complete a series of outstanding administrative requirements or face suspension from the organization.

According to a press release from the organization, Venezuela had until August 12 of this year to meet “important MERCOSUR agreements and norms”, but it has apparently failed to do so. The agreements include one to allow for the free flow of goods as well as another relating to protecting human rights. Venezuela now has until December 1 to meet the agreements.

The move is a significant diplomatic setback for the Maduro administration, which continues to isolate itself from the region through continued human rights violations as well as its abysmal handling of the economic crisis affecting the county.

Rodriguez: MERCOSUR Looking To Destroy Self With “Anti-Judicial Artifacts”

Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez reacted to today’s news from MERCOSUR by calling the move to remove Venezuela from the presidency an “anti-judicial artifact”, and that the decision serves only to weaken the organization.

Through her Twitter account, Rodriguez also called the trade bloc’s decision “a reflection of political intolerance and desperate bureaucrats”, and that:

Venezuela and her Bolivarian diplomacy of peace sow relationships of unity and brotherhood with the peoples of the world, always loyal to her independence.

MUD In Defensive Mode Over Meetings with PSUV

After news broke yesterday that the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) and the national government have met at least twice in secret over the past several weeks, the MUD has been on the defensive in an apparent attempt to quell supporters’ fears that it is negotiating some kind of “way out” for Maduro.

The head of the opposition bloc, Jesus Torrealba, said today that the meetings were not held to avoid or otherwise delay the recall referendum against Maduro: rather, they were held “to remove the obstacles that have made the process difficult”. He also stressed his belief in the fact that 90% of Venezuelans would like for the two sides two meet in order to avoid future conflict.

Torrealba also said:

Our interest isn’t to keep on talking about the same things [with the PSUV]. Our interest is to articulate the transition. If, in order to achieve this, we have to hold talks with talks we will do so with any one at any time.

Torrealba also revealed that that PSUV approached the MUD with the idea to sit down and talk after the Gran Toma de Caracas on September 1 – likely the largest anti-government protest in the nation’s history – and the events at Villa Rosa on September 2.

Torrealba: Villa Rosa “Set Off Alarms Everywhere”

Torrealba called the Villa Rosa protest a turning point for the PSUV, and said that it was seen as “a demonstration of weakness [and] a lack of control”. On that event, Torrealba said:

That [the Villa Rosa protest] set off alarms everywhere. You don’t have to be a genius to know that someone who can’t control their emotions – or even their own security circle – is not in control of the rest of the government, much less the country.

He also suggested that Vice-President Aristobulo Isturiz and National Assembly deputy Elias Jaua were the two individuals who reached out to the MUD in the aftermath of Villa Rosa calling for a dialogue:

[Jose Luis] Zapatero came flying back to the country because there were people in the government asking for dialogue. You all saw it [Zapatero’s return to Venezuela on September 5]. The whole world saw it. Mr. Aristobulo Isturiz, who has been quiet ever since they named General [Vladimir Padrino Lopez] as boss, well, he’s talking about dialogue. Elias Jaua, man! Elia Jaua! [He’s also] talking about dialogue.

Speaking on his radio show, La Fuerza es la Union [Unity is Strength], Torrealba said that the PSUV is currently split into two large groups: one which feels that Venezuelans have “nostalgia for chavismo and would like to revive the movement in a Maduro-less future, and another that is concerned primarily with facing retribution from national and international courts over their activities. This latter group, Torrealba said, is the main force inside the PSUV that does not want any kind of dialogue with the opposition.


CICPC Clears Five Caracas Murders in September

The Cuerpo de Investigaciones Cientificas, Penales y Criminalisticas (CICPC) announced today that it had solved five murder cases in Caracas registered since the start of September.

According to El Universal, there have been 165 murders in Caracas so far this month, making the CICPC’s murder clearance rate approximately 3%.

Grenade Explosion at PGV Prison Leaves 3 Dead, 30 Injured

A grenade exploded inside the Penitenciaria General de Venezuela [Venezuelan General Penitentiary] (PGV) this afternoon, killing three injuring at least 30 people.

It is not yet clear yet if the grenade belonged to an inmate, or why it exploded.

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