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Yesterday morning, the National Guard arrested a 16-year-old boy for stealing five small pumpkins from a farm in Lagunillas, Zulia state. El Universal reports that the boy confessed to the theft, and said that he had planned to take the pumpkins back home to feed them to his family.

The boy was processed by the local National Guard detachment and his case is now with the Public Ministry.

The case drew the ire and indignation of Venezuelans on social media all of yesterday and today, specially because the National Guard posted a picture of the boy in detention along with the squashes. Below, the image circulated by the National Guard:

Angel Alayon, a writer for the Prodavinci website, reacted to the picture with the following:

The sweater has a hole. There, where there should be enough material to protect the body, there is only skin. The teenager is facing the wall. His face cannot be shown according to the precepts of a law that protect him [youths] from public scrutiny.

The same day that El Universal announces that a teenager was detained for stealing five pumpkins so that his family could eat, the government launches a new slogan: “Venezuela is indestructible”.

The picture that bears witness to the detention is martial in nature. Two Bolivarian National Guard officers stand at attention at the teenager’s flanks and those of the pumpkins, which haven’t fully matured yet and are small, innocent. The two rifles, on the other hand, appear imposing beside the weakness of the suspect.

This is not an image. It is a message. It is the iron fist fighting hunger.

Poor economic policy, corruption and the government’s vendetta against the private sector force more and more Venezuelans to become more primitive, to dedicate more of their time and effort to satisfy their most basic instincts. To eat, for example, even at the cost of someone else’s well-being. This is the definition of a state of necessity.

To capture a youth who steals squashes and show him off as a trophy does not speak to the security of the country nor to the efficiency of a public order body. This young man’s attention warns us about the accelerated descent towards a state of affairs where the method for survival of an impoverished society will be violence.

Venezuela to be Suspend from MERCOSUR Starting December 1

Paraguayan Foreign Affairs Minister Eladio Loizaga confirmed today that Venezuela will be suspended from MERCOSUR starting on December 1 in a sign of the Maduro regime’s increasing isolation in the region. The regional trade bloc was founded by Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay in 1991, and Venezuela joined as a member state in 2012.

However, the organization argues that Venezuela has not yet completed all of the steps necessary to make it a full member of the organization, meaning that it will officially be relegated to the status of “associate state”, and will lose all of the privileges afforded to member states, including the ability to directly influence the bloc’s policy through voting at its meetings.

According to Loizaga, Venezuela has not been able to meet 112 resolutions that each member state must abide by because the country claims that the resolutions are contrary to its own legislation. Loizaga explained why this explanation is unsatisfactory, saying:

That can’t be a motive for not incorporating [the resolutions], because when you enter into a covenant or an international agreement and you have a collision with internal legislation you hacen reservas [this literally means “make reserves”, but I think it means something like, “you file official paperwork with the organization with which you are entering into an agreement outlining these collisions”], and Venezuela has not done that.

The MERCOSUR presidency is rotated among its member states on a six-month basis based on alphabetical order. Uruguay held the position until July 29, at which point Venezuela claims to have become the president of the organization. However, the other MERCOSUR countries refused to accept Venezuela’s presidency, due in part to the country’s horrendous economic performance and its continued violations of human rights.

Torrealba to Maduro: “I’m Not Your Friend”

Jesus Torrealba, the head of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), responded to Maduro calling him his “friend” during a televised speech yesterday. Torrealba’s response was terse:

I’m not your friend. I don’t have friends who do these types of things. All of my friends are gente de lucha [roughly, “hard working people”].

Torrealba’s response comes to comments Maduro made during a speech that aired on TV. During the speech, Maduro spoke about Torrealba, saying:

I understand the drama he’s going through. I like him and I forgive him because I want peace, and I know he wants it too even though some [opposition politicians] drive him crazy.

Torrealba took offence not only to being called Maduro’s friend, but also to the tone and content of Maduro’s entire speech. Torrealba said:

I don’t need my speeches to have a quarrelsome tone, because I am that which you are not and will never me. I am a man of the slums and I come from the bottom [of society]. The first word that you used to speak to me was “garbage”, and starting from there came the waterfall of insults, so don’t come to me now telling me that we’re friends.


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