The tenuous status of the dialogue between the PSUV and the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) appears to be on the brink of collapse today barely 24 hours after the opposition bloc called off a march to the Miraflores Palace and the government released five political prisoners in apparent gestures of goodwill towards each other.
Today, the MUD responded in anger to Maduro’s qualification of the Voluntad Popular (VP) party as a “terrorist group”, and his threats to imprison its leaders. Maduro made the comments barely four hours after the MUD announced that it had called off its protest against the government scheduled for Thursday.
The head of the MUD, Jesus Torrealba, responded to Maduro’s threats against VP today during his radio show. Speaking directly to Maduro, Torrealba stressed the MUD’s commitment to its member parties and suggested that Maduro’s comments were an attempt to drive a wedge between VP (which was against the dialogue with the PSUV) and the rest of the MUD. Torrealba said:
If you mess with one MUD member, you mess with all of us. You will not be able to divide the MUD. You’ve made a mistake, Maduro. We’re all democrats. This division between [parties in favour of] the dialogue and radicals is something that you made up. We have different tactical visions (…) but we have strategies in common, which is impeccable: peaceful, constitutional and electoral, which is something that you can’t say [about the PSUV].
Torrealba called Maduro’s threats and attempts to divide the MUD “typical of any decadent power”, and said that Maduro was “scolded” into accepting the Vatican’s intervention in the talks between the PSUV and the opposition.
National Assembly President Henry Ramos Allup also responded to Maduro’s comments on VP, saying today that the threats were evidence that neither Maduro nor the PSUV in general are at all interested in participating in a dialogue with the opposition. Allup said:
They [the PSUV] have nothing to demand and little with which to respond. Here’s the evidence of that: just as we begin to explore the possibility of the opposition and the government agreeing on a solution for some vital points so that we can begin the dialogue process, they fire from the hip.
Coupled with Maduro’s threats against VP and its leaders yesterday, the MUD’s reaction today appears to cast a giant shadow over the already fragile dialogue process between the two sides.
Capriles: November 11 Will Be Decisive
Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles appeared on the Vladimir a la 1 interview show this afternoon to speak on the cancellation of tomorrow’s march to Miraflores and the dialogue efforts between the PSUV and the MUD.
Capriles stressed that the cancellation of the march to Miraflores was merely a postponement, and that the MUD would know within a matter of hours if it wanted to go ahead with the dialogue or not. Capriles said:
We’ll see in hours if there has been a dialogue or not. If not, we will continue with out agenda to restore constitutional order….
On the cancellation of the march to Miraflores, Capriles said:
No one’s said that people should not exercise their constitutional right [to protest]. All we’ve asked for is a few hours. We don’t have an armed conflict in Venezuela. This is a matter of the government’s political will.
We haven’t said that we’re not going to Miraflores. We’ve said that we’re not going tomorrow.
Capriles also reiterated opposition claims that the march to Miraflores was called off because Pope Francis personally requested it out of concerns that it would result in bloodshed. Capriles said:
The Pope asked [to call off the march] through his envoy to Venezuela, and I don’t think that he’s naive. We believe that the march to Miraflores should not take place at this time, this Thursday.
While he did not explain exactly how much time the opposition needed to make up its stance on the dialogue, Capriles echoed a deadline given by Voluntad Popular for the Maduro government to make clear, tangible gestures that it was in fact willing to dialogue: November 12.
For Capriles – like for the VP party – one clear sign of goodwill the government could give is the release of all political prisoners in the country, of which there are approximately 109. Capriles said:
I see November 11 as a decisive day. If from here to November 11 we haven’t seen clear results, and overwhelming sign… there aren’t five, six people who have to be freed. They all have to be freed.
Speaking on Leopoldo Lopez, arguably the most well-known of Venezuela’s political prisoners, Capriles said:
Leopoldo will get out. It’s not like some [political prisoners] will get out and other won’t. They must all come out. I’ve told people that this year would be the last time that Leopoldo would spend his birthday in [prison], and that’s the way it’s going to be.
Capriles also acknowledged the fact that most of the country’s political prisoners are in some way affiliated with the Voluntad Popuar party, and said:
If they attack Voluntad Popular, they attack the MUD. If they attack another party, they attack the MUD. We’ve always said this: [the MUD] is plural.
Tintori: Lopez Incommunicado For Nearly One Week
Lilian Tintori announced today that her husband, Leopoldo Lopez, has been held incommunicado for nearly a week. She said that the last anyone heard from Lopez was on Friday at 2:00 PM, and that authorities at the Ramo Verde military prison in which he is being held are refusing anyone access to the jailed leader.
[Lopez] has been isolated since Friday at 2:00 PM and we don’t have any more information. 120 hours without information. They don’t let his relatives [go into the prison]. They don’t let his lawyers enter, and they don’t let me enter. We’ve asked for un fe de vida [literally, “proof of life”, essentially what we would call habeas corpus in common law countries] because he’s been kidnapped and is a hostage of the State. [We’ve asked for] a fe de vida that includes his voice and his face. Only then will we know if Leopoldo is OK.
Students Protest in Caracas Tomorrow
Hasler Iglesias, the head of the country’s student movement, announced today that university students in Caracas would march on the Libertador Avenue tomorrow, but made sure to make it clear that the students would not attempt to mobilize to the Miraflores Palace.
SEBIN Denies VP Prisoner Emergency Medial Procedure
Rosmit Mantilla, a political prisoner who was elected as a back-up National Assembly deputy for the Voluntad Popular party, has allegedly suffered torture at the hand of his SEBIN captors. The accusation comes from Mantilla’s lawyer, Theresly Malave, who said that Mantilla has lost 23 kilograms while in custody and that he has been denied medical treatment.
We… asked for his transfer [to a hospital] on October 24 after Rosmit exhibited symptoms that made him lose over 23 kilograms. He was granted that transfer, [and doctors said that] Rosmit’s bladder was full of small deposits. In light of that situation [the doctors decide to] conduct an emergency surgery, but the SEBIN found out. [The SEBIN agents] told their superiors, and Commissioner Calderon ordered [Rosmit] to be taken out of the urologist because there was no judicial order [to allow the surgery].
Malave said that even after a judge provided a written order to allow Rosmit to undergo the emergency procedure, the SEBIN agents refused to comply by the order and punished him:
… they put him in a punishment cell with no water, no light and washroom in which people are placed as a punishment.
As a response to Malave’s accusations, People’s Defender Tarek William Saab tweeted a call today “to the corresponding authorities” to let Rosmit undergo the surgery.
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