The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, held a press conference today alongside Venezuelan human rights activities Lilian Tintori, Patricia de Ceballos and Oriana Goicoechea in which he double-down on his claim that Venezuela is a dictatorship, and stressed the importance of holding general elections in the country as soon as possible. Almagro pointed out that this is not the first time that the specter of authoritarianism has taken hold of a Latin American country, saying:
Elections are the way out of dictatorship. That’s how it happened in Uruguay, Chile, [and] Argentina. The way out of dictatorship is elections. That’s the solution.
Almagro also said that Maduro’s PSUV has lost all political legitimacy to govern Venezuela, and that it was “impossible” for the party to recover from its fall from grace.
Calling on OAS member states to refuse to “look the other way” on the Venezuela crisis, Almagro reiterated his commitment to the Venezuelan cause, hinting at the fact that he would continue to work to oppose the Maduro regime even after he leaves the OAS:
I’m not tethered to this position, but I am tethered to the fight for democracy. To quote Chavez, “May I never want for air, because I will never want for courage” [que nuna me falte aire, porque el valor nuna me va a faltar].
Tintori, de Ceballos and Goiocoechea all have spouses who are victims of the Maduro regime’s relentless persecution of political opponents.
The OAS is expected to begin debating whether to suspend Venezuela from the organization tomorrow.
El Aissami To Almagro: “Coward”
Vice President Tareck El Aissami was quick to respond to Secretary General Almagro’s comments on Venezuela today, taking to an interview show on the state-owned VTV television network to lash out against the diplomat.
He [Almagro] hates and despises Venezuelan history. He’s a coward who never faced off against President Hugo Chavez, and he came here lobbying to get his position and then he knelt down before North American imperialism.
El Aissami also predicted that Almagro’s work against the Maduro regime would be ultimately fruitless:
Now, who is Almagro? He’s someone who will wither like [opposition politician Henry Ramos] Allup and like all those who have faced off against the revolution and have failed tremendously, because we are committed to victory, to winning permanently.
Venezuela is currently experiencing the worst economic, political and social meltdown of its modern history. Last year, the inflation rate topped 800%, and GDP contracted by a shocking 19%.
Bakery Expropriations Continue
Regime officials expropriated two more bakeries today as part of the ongoing “Bread War” against Caracas bakeries. The latest casualties of the war are two establishments located in the El Silencio neighbourhood of Caracas. The pair joint two bakeries that were expropriated last Wednesday.
William Contreras, the head of the agency in charge of regulating prices in the country, told reporters that the two bakeries were being run by the same individual using two different identities. Contreras also alleged that the same individual was running a complicated scheme in which he bought baking ingredients under one establishment and sold them at a premium in the other.
Mansion’s Bakery Owner Literally Kicked Out of Establishment
Emilio Dos Santos, the owner of Mansion’s Bakery – which was expropriated last Wednesday – told El Nacional today that he was literally “kicked out” of the store when regime “thugs” showed up on Wednesday and took over the bakery by force. Dos Santos said that the individuals claimed to be taking over the bakery because it was refusing to sell bread, “but we were selling bread just then”.
Dos Santos said that he ran that same bakery for the past 25 years without any issues.
Pablo Mesina, the bakery’s accountant, pointed out that the expropriation left the bakery’s 18 employees out of work, and that the establishment is now being run by people who have zero experience in business or baking. Mesina said:
Mr. [William] Contreras arrived, kicked out all of the employees and replaced them with people who have no experience baking. This expropriation left 18 employees out on the street.
Earlier today, the bakery’s former staff held a protest in front of the establishment to demand that they be given their jobs back.
El Nacional quoted one of the pro-government individuals now in charge of the bakery as admitting the groups’ lack of knowledge on baking:
We’re not perfect. We’ll figure it out as we go along.
Five Children, One Teen Charged in Double Homicide
A group of five children aged six to ten years old and a fifteen-year-old have been charged in connection with a double homicide that took place Sunday overnight in the Sabana Grande avenue in Caracas. The victims were two soldiers: First Sargent Yohan Miguel Borrero Escalona (25) and Second Sargent Andres Jose Ortiz (23). The two were stabbed to death as they stepped out of a restaurant to smoke.
According to authorities, the children belong to a notorious gang called “Los Cachorros” [“The Pups”]. The children pick pocketed one of the soldiers and took off running. The soldiers allegedly chased the children around a corner, where they were met by other members of the gangs who were armed and lying in wait. Borrero received a mortal wound on the spot, while Ortiz was taken to a local hospital and died shortly thereafter.
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