Reaction to the release of former presidential candidate Manuel Rosales and five other political prisoners yesterday continued to make headlines today, as the heads of both UNASUR and the OAS weighed in on the news.
Ernesto Samper, the secretary general of UNASUR, applauded the move and called it a sign that a dialogue between the opposition and the PSUV “is the path” forward for the country. Samper reacted to the news through his Twitter account, saying:
Welcome to freedom Manuel Rosales and his colleagues. This step is evidence that the dialogue is the path for Venezuela.
While the opposition and the PSUV agreed to hold high-level talks started in late October, the opposition walked away from the negotiating table in early December after the Maduro regime failed to adhere to agreements the two sides had reached. One of the points the PSUV agreed to had been to release 71 political prisoners by November 11 with the eventual goal of releasing all of them in the near future, but the promise never materialized.
As of yesterday, there are still 103 political prisoners held by the Maduro regime.
The secretary general of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro spoke in a less congratulatory tone in his reaction to the news. Through his Twitter account, Almagro said:
We welcome the liberation of these political prisoners in #Venezuela (…) the government of #Venezuela has a duty to release all political prisoners, re-establish its people’s rights and the [restore] a functional democracy.
The statements from the two leaders reflect the historical stance their respective organizations have taken towards chavismo in general. UNASUR, particularly under Samper, has typically been a close ally to both Chavez and Maduro, while the OAS has traditionally been a harsh critic of PSUV-ruled Venezuela.
For his part, author Leonardo Padron wondered through his Twitter account how exactly the Maduro regime decides who to release and when. Given the seemingly arbitrary nature in which the prisoners are released, Padron said:
Speaking of the political prisoners who were just freed: it would be very telling to know the criteria that [the regime] uses to free some rather than others.
PDVSA Begins Oil Cut Today
The state-owned PDVSA oil firm will adjust its crude output today by cutting production by 95,000 barrels of oil per day as per an OPEC agreement reached in December. The production cut has the aim of lowering supply of crude oil to force the prices of the commodity to go up.
Venezuela is now expected to produce a maximum of 1.98 million barrels per day.
PDVSA announced its intention to adhere by the production cut through a release that partially reads:
PDVSA, in keeping with the agreements reached by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, reiterates its promise to adhere by her decisions and contribute to the stability of the world oil industry.
As one of the countries hardest hit by the drop in oil prices that began in 2014, Venezuela pushed hard for a production cut for months until the agreement was finally reached at OPEC in December.
Caracas Sees 15 Homicide in First 14 Hours of 2017
Caracas saw a violent start to 2017, registering 15 homicides in the first 14 hours of the new year. El Nacional, citing journalist Roman Camacho, says that between midnight and 2:00 PM today, fifteen Caracas lost their lives to violence.
Venezuela saw approximately 28,479 murders in all of 2016 according to the Observatorio Venezolano de la Violencia [Venezuelan Violence Watch], a local NGO that tracks crime statistics.
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