Yesterday, a federal judge rejected a request by the defense team of Efrain and Francisco Flores to dismiss evidence against the two in their ongoing drug trafficking case. The judge’s rejection of the defense motion is a “stinging blow” to the Flores nephews, as it means that overwhelming evidence against the two – including their confessions to DEA agents – will be heard at trial.
U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty issued a 24-page ruling in which he explained his reasoning for the decision to allow the evidence at trial. Part of the ruling reads:
[DEA Special Agent] Gonzalez testified credibly that each defendant read the Spanish-language Miranda forms, each indicated he understood, and then signed… Mr. Campo Flores even commented when asked if he understood the form that he was an attorney.
The decision comes after the defense filed a motion to have evidence collected against the cousins thrown out. Efrain and Francisco – both Cilia Flores’ nephews – were arrested in Haiti last November attempting to arrange the smuggling of 800 kilograms of cocaine into the United States.
Canada Re-Classifies Venezuela’s Travel Risk Level
The Canadian government re-classified Venezuela’s travel risk level to “AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL” yesterday, citing the country’s general state of crisis. The government’s notice is summarized by the following text:
Venezuela – AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to Venezuela due to the significant level of violent crime, the unstable political and economic situations and the decline in basic living conditions, including shortages of medication, food staples and water, in the country. A nationwide state of exception (state of emergency) has been in effect since January 15, 2016.
Travel Health Notice – Zika virus
The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued a Travel Health Notice for the Global Update: Zika virus infection recommending that Canadians practice special health precautions while travelling in affected countries. Pregnant women and those considering becoming pregnant should avoid travel to Venezuela. See Health for more information.
The travel warning also contains an extensive overview of the safety and security concerns Canadian travelers must take if heading to Venezuela, which can be found here.
Venezuela joins a list of 11 other countries that the Canadian government recommends against visiting for non-essential purposes, including Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan, Lebanon and Nigeria.
National Bolivarian Police Officers Pose for Pictures With Lilian Tintori
A video surfaced on social media on Tuesday showing Lilian Tintori happily taking pictures, hugging and shaking hands with National Bolivarian Police officers. The video can be seen below:
Tintori is married to Leopoldo Lopez, the head of the Voluntad Popular [Popular Will] (VP) party. Lopez is currently serving a nearly 14 year-long prison sentence over his role in the 2014 anti-government protests, and is arguably Venezuela’s most famous political prisoner.
Protests in Venezuela – even peaceful ones – are often repressed violently. Despite the violence which tends to meet opposition demonstrations, movement leaders often make personal appeals to National Guard and National Bolivarian Police officers to join them by reminding the officers that they, too, suffer from the crime, scarcity and insecurity that motivates the protests.
Maduro Takes Issue with “Aguas Negras”
In Venezuelan Spanish, the term “aguas negras” translates into English as “black waters”. The term is used to describe water that is contaminated with fecal matter, and is akin to the term “sewer water” in English.
The term is commonly used to describe any kind of contaminated or dirty water. The video below, recorded in Valencia, Carabobo state in February of this year, shows an example of what would be considered “aguas negras” in Venezuela:
Speaking in a televised speech yesterday, Maduro took issue with the term “aguas negras” because he said that he considers it a racist term, along with “un futuro negro” [“a black future”, meaning “a dark future”], another term in common use.
Maduro made the comments during a celebration of Indigenous Resistance Day. During the same speech, he announced that the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples would now be called “Ministry of Indigenous Peoples an Decolonization”.
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