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U.S. Department of State envoy Thomas Shannon arrived in Caracas today and met with Maduro in the Miraflores Palace, signalling the involvement of the U.S. government in the blossoming talks between the opposition and the embattled PSUV country.

Shannon is expected to stay in Venezuela until Wednesday.

Below, a picture of Shannon meeting Maduro in the Miraflores Palace earlier today:

Maduro said that he spoke to Shannon for about an hour, and that the two spoke about oil. Maduro also said that he has made “great efforts” to build a relationship with the united states based on “respect and permanent dialogue”.

The United States feature predominantly in Maduro’s speeches as the primary instigator of the so-called “economic war”, the name the PSUV uses for the supposed international conspiracy bent on overthrowing the Maduro government.

After announcing that the MUD and the PSUV had set up working groups to tackle some of the issues addressed in yesterday’s meeting between the two sides, Maduro said that the meeting was “positive”.

 

Capriles: I Don’t Trust Maduro at All

Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles reacted to yesterday’s meeting between the PSUV and MUD today by stressing how deeply skeptical he remains of everything that Maduro says. At the same time, Capriles said that he had faith that Pope Francis and the Vatican were pushing for the dialogue earnestly and with good intentions.

Through his Twitter account, Capriles said:

I don’t believe Maduro even when he says “good morning!”. They are devils who are capable of anything. But I do believe in Pope Francis and the Church!

Capriles has often borne the brunt of PSUV attacks, particularly from Maduro himself. In 2012, Maduro famously called Capriles “a faggot” in a televised speech, and suggested that the opposition leader was a homosexual.

El Nuevo Herald: Drug Money Destined For Cilia’s Campaign

Today, a New York City court saw the first piece of evidence against Efrain and Francisco Flores made public. That piece of evidence was a transcript of a conversation in which Efrain said that he was hoping to forward the proceeds from the drug smuggling operation for which he was subsequently arrested to his aunt, First Lady Cilia Flores, for her National Assembly campaign.

The transcript is the first piece of evidence made public in the trial since the two men were arrested in Haiti in November of last year.

El Nuevo Herald reports that in the transcript, Efrain says that he needs the money for his “mother’s” campaign. While Cilia is Efrain’s aunt, she raised him as her son.

The newspaper also reports that the transcript – which comes from a conversation recorded by an undercover DEA informant – contains the following words from Efrain:

We need the money. Why? Because the Americans are beating us when it comes to money. Do you understand me? The opposition… is receiving lots of money.

El Nuevo Herald reports that the transcript is from a conversation that took place last October, just weeks before the two men were arrested for attempting to smuggle 800 kilograms of cocaine into the United States.

The newspaper also reports that after the two men were arrested, Efrain attempted to backtrack on his statement regarding the eventual goal of the drug money, saying:

I know I said that [that the money was for Cilia], but really [the money] was for me.

The transcript provides the clearest and most direct link of the drug trade to Maduro’s office to date.

Voluntad Popular Continues to Push for Miraflores March

Following the refusal of the Voluntad Popular (VP) opposition party to attend talks with the government yesterday, the party today called for continued “street pressure” against the Maduro government, and announced that the rally points for Thursday’s march on Miraflores would be revealed tonight through social media.

Carlos Vecchio, an exiled VP leader, took to Twitter with a a similar message today, saying:

A dialogue would not substituted our will for political change in 2016. In order to overcome the crisis, Venezuela must decide if Nicolas Maduro should remain in power.

Gov’t Extends Private Flight Ban to November 7

The national government extended a ban on all private flights – including drones – until November 7, presumably in anticipation of the march on the opposition march Miraflores on Thursday.

The announcement was made by the Instituto Nacional de Aeronautica Civil [National Civil Aviation Institute] (INAC), and includes “all distance-controlled aircraft”, more commonly known as drones.

Drones have become affordable in recent years, and are used extensively to take photographs and record videos of events like protests from the sky.


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