Speaking on his weekly Los Domingos con Maduro [Sundays with Maduro] television show, Maduro announced today that he had “authorized” vice president Tareck El Aissami to launch lawsuits against anyone who spreads “infamous” allegations against him, following El Aissami’s sanctioning by the United States Department of the Treasury on Monday for being a “prominent drug trafficker”.

Maduro made the announcement by saying:

I have authorized the executive vice president to take every legal action, which is what he’s doing, in national courts and in courts against the United States and in international courts so that he may face these baseless accusations.

Maduro said that he wanted El Aissami to “immediately sue” anyone who repeated the story in Venezuela so that El Aissami may “exercise his right to defend his honour and that of his family”.

News of the sanctions against El Aissami – which bar his entry into the United States, target thirteen corporate entities connected to him and seize “tens of millions of dollars” in stashed wealth – were widely reported in Venezuela by virtually every independent media outlet. It is now clear if these outlets will now be the targets of lawsuits.

Maduro Calls on Trump to “Open His Eyes”

During the same show, Maduro called on President Donald Trump to exercise caution, as Maduro claimed that “they” were trying to force him to adopt harmful and erroneous policies. Maduro did not explain who exactly “they” were, but rather generally alluded to international right wing forces.

Maduro said:

They’re imposing [on Trump] all of the failed and illegal policies from the Obama and Bush era against Venezuela.

Maduro also expressed a more conciliatory message of adulation to Trump’s electoral victory, saying:

President Donald Trump — Mr. Donald Trump, take it from a revolutionary, a warrior, a fighter: I don’t agree with your economic, social or political doctrines, but I understand that you won an overwhelming victory against former candidate Hillary Clinton and that you are the President of the United States.

Trump lost the popular vote against Clinton by nearly three million votes.

Maduro also returned to a common claim, which is that the Venezuelan opposition was actively engaged in attempting to convince the United States to take direct action on Venezuela. Maduro said:

They [the opposition] are going to ask for an intervention from the empire [the United States]. That would be a crime in any country in the world, and it’s a crime against the homeland in our Constitution. Everyone who asks for foreign intervention, in this case from the United States Empire, against peace in Venezuela is committing the crime that is treason against the homeland, and our institutions should react.

Maduro singled out National Assembly president Julio Borges, vice president Freddy Guevara and deputy Julio Borges as the main culprits of what he considers to be treason after the trio made recent trips abroad recently to speak on the Venezuelan crisis.

Maduro Launches Into Bizarre, Self-Aggrandizing Rant

Maduro also took the time to speak on his role as President of the Republic, and assured listeners that he was the right man for the position by going on a bizarre rant during which he spoke highly of himself at length.

Maduro said:

At this time in the life of the republic we have a project — a plan — a clear development project (…) and we have the will, the love, the commitment, the honesty, because you, my compatriots — you’ll forgive me for saying this but I will say it. It’s not due to a lack of modesty, no. I am a modest man, a simple man, just like you.

My beloved compatriots, we have many advantages. One of these advantages is that we have here as the President of the Republic not a negotiator, or a thief, or a traitor; we have a worker, a sincere man, and honest and independent man. When I say that I am an independent man, [I mean] that I do not depend on anyone. I don’t have to pick up the phone from some embassy that’s calling me to give me orders (…) whoever dares [to call me to tell me what to do], I’ll shoot electricity back at them through the phone so that they’ll go deaf. The electricity will go through the phone. I make people respect Venezuela, because by making people respect Venezuela I make them respect the future that our children have.

He continued by saying:

I am an independent president. I am independent from oligarchies, lobbyists. No multi-millionaire calls me. They don’t care to. No multi-millionaire in this country or from anywhere in the world calls me to give me orders. I’m nobody’s puppet. My life belongs to the only owners of this homeland: the people of Venezuela. That is you. I’m here for you, to serve this country (…) I cannot be intimidated.

Ledezma Marks Two Years in Detention

Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma marked two years in detention today. Ledezma was arrested at his office in Caracas on February 19, 2015 during a raid by the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN), Venezuela’s political police. Ledezma was led away from the offices by heavily armed SEBIN agents who did not present any kind of warrant either for entering the premises or for arresting Ledezma.

The day after his arrest, Maduro announced that Ledezma had been arrested for “all of the crimes” that he had committed, although he had yet to be charged with anything. At that time, Maduro said:

They call him “The Vampire”, but I don’t call him that. Several generations of Venezuelans [call him that]. Today, Mr. Antonio Ledezma was captured by order of the Attorney General and will be processed by Venezuelan justice so that he can answer for all of the crimes he has committed against peace in Venezuela.

Ledezma would later be charged in connection with an alleged coup to overthrow the government.

The Maduro regime is basing its case on a collection of audio files it claims captured Ledezma plotting to overthrow the government. However, the files were captured on a version of the OSX operating system that was released later than when the regime claims the recordings were made, discounting the possibility that the files were recorded when the regime claims that they were.

As an outspoken opposition leader and mayor of the capital city, Ledezma had long been a thorn at the side of the Maduro regime by the time that he was arrested.

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