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Maduro announced today that he has been trying to get in touch with Uruguayan President Tabare Vasquez for the past week in order “clarify” some of the recent events in the country, but that he has not been successful.

Uruguay has traditionally been one of Venezuela’s ever-shrinking list of allies in the region. In recent months, Uruguay has been hesitant to take action against the Maduro regime through Mercosur, but that stance appears to have ended. Yesterday, Mercosur issued a statement in which it condemned “the break in the democratic order” in Venezuela with Uruguay’s support.

Maduro said that he hoped to be able to speak to President Vasquez again at some point. He also said that he hoped that President Vasquez would go down in history as a head of state who worked to put an end to regional “aggression” against Venezuela.

Mercosur’s statement from yesterday also called on the Maduro regime to immediately release political prisoners, and to hold regional and general elections. Argentinian Foreign Affairs Minister Suana Malcorra summarized Mercosur’s position on Venezuela by saying:

We’re clearly seeing a situation in which the separation of powers, which is essential to democratic institutions, isn’t working.

Venezuela Rejects Mercosur Statement

The Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a response today rejecting Mercosur’s statement today from yesterday on the rupture of democratic order in Venezuela. As in virtually every previous occassion in which an international figure or organization has expressed a negative opinion on Venezuela, the statement accuses Mercosur of overstepping its mandate, violating international law(s), and attempting to interfere in Venezuelan affairs.

Part of the statement reads:

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela expresses its categorical rejection of the meeting of diplomats from Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay [and Brazil], which took place today [Saturday] in Buenos Aires, [in which they] exceeded their powers and abilities, and illegally violated Venezuelan’s condition as a member of Mercosur, taking decisions against Venezuela that are at the margin of the legality and institutionality of this organization and international law.

Mercosur suspended Venezuela from the organization in December of last year, after the country failed to meet a number of economic and institutional requirements in order to gain full membership.

Vivanco: Democratic “Facade” is No More

Jose Miguel Vivanco, the director for the Americas at Human Rights Watch, said that the events of this past week mark “a clear end to the democratic facade of the government of Nicolas Maduro”. Human Rights Watch becomes the latest in a growing number of international bodies to denounce the Maduro regime’s turn towards authoritarianism.

Vivanco went on to say:

What we saw in Venezuela wasn’t just a recent accident or an isolated incident. Over the course of many years, chavismo has acted persistently and deliberately to weaken control mechanisms and demolish the fundamental rights of its citizens.

Vivanco also praised the vociferous and unequivocal denunciation of the dictatorship in Venezuela from Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro, whom he said have played “an exemplary role” in their support for human rights and democracy in Venezuela.

Maduro Downplays Case of Starving Elephant

In recent days, Venezuelan media has covered the case of Ruperta, the only African Elephant in the country. Ruperta, who lives at the Caricuao Zoo in Caracas, is showing visible signs of malnutrition. Venezuelan animal lovers have sympathized with and rallied around Ruperta, whose condition has become another prominent example of the Venezuelan food crisis.

Below, an image showing an emaciated Ruperta taken last week:

Maduro addressed the Ruperta case for the first time today, calling it a manufactured “drama” meant to discredit him, and suggested that Ruperta’s distress is caused simply by old age. Maduro said:

Two weeks ago they started taking about the beloved Ruperta, who is really old. They created a drama, a show. And on social media people start talking about bad things in order to demoralize people and children with this topic.

Maduro also said that his enemies are careful to send these types of demoralizing messages on Sunday evenings “to make you start your week off poorly”, and called on Venezuelans to be aware of these tactics in order to “face this war” successfully.


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