A highly anticipated meeting between the PSUV and the opposition faciliated by the Vatican and hailed as the start of an earnest dialogue between the two sides ended in anti-climax today as the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) refused to commit itself to formal talks with the PSUV. News of the development came from EFE, which also reported that the MUD leadership may meet personally with Maduro tonight in Caracas.

The MUD’s failure to commit to the dialogue stems from a difference in opinion in the bloc’s four main parties: Voluntad Popular (VP), Primero Justicia (PJ), Accion Democratica (AD), and Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT).

A journalist with El Nacional named Alex Vasquez reports that the fissure appears to stem from the fact that VP refuses to agree to any dialogue since it considers that the conditions for one do not exist, presumably starting from the fact that its leader – Leopoldo Lopez – is a political prisoner. Vasquez also reports that AD is willing to commit to a dialogue only if the three other parties agree to as well.

Isturiz on Miraflores March: “We’ll Be Waiting”

Vice President Aristobulo Isturiz spoke on a televised speech yesterday in which he issued a threat to opposition supporters who hope to participate on Thursday’s protest at the Miraflores Palace.

Isturiz said:

We’ll be waiting for you in Miraflores. We’re going to be on the Mexico, Urdaneta, Lecuna, Sucre, O’Leary and El Calvario avenues, on all the entrances. To get to Nicolas you’re going to have to go over top of our people.

Article 53 of the Constitution grants Venezuelans the right to peaceful protest on public spaces. As a public space, the area around the Miraflores Palace holds no special importance as far as Venezuelan law is concerned. In fact, the PSUV often organizes demonstrations for their supporters outside of the Miraflores Palace. The effective ban on protests outside of the presidential palace affects only opposition supporters.

Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles responded to Isturiz’s threats today, calling them “irresponsible”. Through his Twitter account, Capriles said:

Venezuelans must reject the irresponsible comments from professor Aristobulo Isturiz, which are inciting a war in Miraflores.

The opposition has been clear and unequivocal on calling for the November 3 march to Miraflores to be wholly peaceful and non-violent.

Capriles Pegs Possible Violence on Gov’t

Capriles also reminded Venezuelans that the Miraflores Palace belongs not to the PSUV, but to the citizens of the country. Capriles said:

Neither Maduro nor any of his cabal own the Miraflores Palace. Any Venezuelan has the right to go [to Miraflores] and demand that they obey the Constitution.

On the possibility of violence, Capriles said that the Venezuelan government has a monopoly on the use of weapons:

The government has weapons and is responsible for security, and [the government] will be the only entity responsible for any violent act.

Foreign Minister Accuses Peruvian President of Being U.S. Lackey

Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez spoke out against Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s recent expression of concern for the human right situation in Venezuela, accusing him of being a U.S. lackey. Rodriguez made the comments during the Ibero-American Summit being held in Cartagena, Colombia this weekend.

Rodriguez said:

To the President of Peru, who just recently came to office (…) we ask that you take off your U.S. businessman suit and take a closer look at the reality of the peoples of Latin America.

Rodriguez also urged President Kuczynski to “take care of his own people” instead of talking about Venezuela, and pointed out that “there is a lot of social debt in Peru”.

She continued with her criticism by saying:

He should take off his U.S. businessman suit. He’s always worked for transnational [corporations], for foreign interests and in particular those of the United Sates.

During the summit, Rodriguez said that Venezuela has “a vigorous democracy” and that the Maduro government is a champion “when it comes to human rights”.

Rodriguez’s response came to comment made by President Kuczynski at the summit today. He said:

It’s very difficult to have a meeting such as this one without talking about these issues. If we don’t, then they’ll [the public] will say that we talked about education and other pretty things, but that we’re not taking care of these pressing topics.

Fire At PDVSA Refinery in Puerto La Cruz

Fire broke out today at a PDVSA refinery in the Guaraguao sector of Puerto La Cruz, Anzoategui state. The fire appears to be contained to a single oil storage tank at the site. There have been no reports of injuries or fatalities so far.

Below, images from the scene:

National Assembly president Henry Ramos Allup reacted to the news of the fire by launching a sarcastic quip at the PSUV. Given the PSUV’s penchant for blaming the opposition and/or the United States for many of the problems facing the country, Allup said through Twitter:

Who is the government going to blame for the fire at the PDVSA refinery at Guaraguao? MUD sabotage, Obama, or the counter-revolution?

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com
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