The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) announced via press conference this afternoon that opposition candidates would not run under the coalition banner in the October regional elections, and that instead its candidates would run individually under their respective political parties.
While the MUD claims that the decision is purely a tactical one, the decision to essentially split the opposition bloc comes at a time of heightened visible fighting among the coalition’s main parties, namely Accion Democratica (AD), Volutnad Popular (VP) and Primero Justicia (PJ). Just last week, the Vente Venezuela party announced that it was leaving the MUD over the bloc’s decision to participate in the election.
Henry Ramos Allup, the head of the AD party, said during the press conference today that the decision to not run under the MUD banner was taken in order to prevent the regime from neutralizing the opposition in one hit. Allup explained that it would be entirely possible for the Maduro regime to declare that the MUD was disqualified from running in the October vote, and in so doing ensure a PSUV victory in the election. By running with their individual parties, Allup explained, the regime would have more than one target to worry about.
A press release issued in conjunction with the conference ends with the following reassuring statement:
The objective of the [MUD] continues to be the same: to get out of this dictatorship as soon as possible, and our acts during this regional electoral process will always be subordinate to that goal.
TSJ Issues Arrest Warrant for Ferrer
The Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) issued an arrest warrant for National Assembly deputy German Ferrer, husband to former attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz, in the latest move by the Maduro regime against vocal opponents. The move comes after agents from the regime’s political police, the SEBIN, raided Ferrer and Ortega Diaz’s home in Caracas yesterday after PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello made a formal complaint at the Public Ministry alleging that the couple were engaged in an extortion racket.
Aside from openly supporting his wife’s new stance against the regime, Ferrer was one of three legislators to abandon the PSUV-led bloc at the National Assembly in early August, a move that constituted the first Maduro-era defections at parliament.
Ferrer is being charged with corruption and extortion. In issuing the arrest warrant, the TSJ lends credence to a Public Ministry claim that it has original documents showing that Ferrer and Ortega Diaz have a bank account in the Bahamas with $6 million. The Public Ministry–which is now run by Tarek William Saab— has not provided any more details on the account.
According to the TSJ, Ferrer can be arrested immediately because the crimes of which he stands accused are not covered by his parliamentary immunity.
The TSJ’s decision was followed late this afternoon with one from the Constituent Assembly, which decreed that Ferrer no longer has parliamentary immunity, paving the way for his arrest.
MUD Denounces Persecution Against Ferrer
National Assembly president Julio Borges held a press conference last night in which he spoke on behalf of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) on the arrest warrant against Ferrer. Borges called the attack against Ferrer “null and without validity” because the decision to carry it out came from the Constituent Assembly, a body that Borges argues is fraudulent.
Borges also spoke on the fact that the facts of the complaint made against Ferrer and Ortega Diaz by Diosdado Cabello are unknown, and that as a result Venezuelans are left with nothing but Cabello’s word that they are. Borges said:
Diosdado Cabello waved some papers and then immediately without knowing what the alleged crimes are, they order Ferrer’s arrest. It is not known if the evidence is true, or who charged them with the crime.
Borges also lamented the fact that the Maduro regime, through the work of its Constituent Assembly, is more preoccupied with taking revenge on opponents than working to solve the country’s existential problems. Borges said:
It is scandalous that in today’s Venezuela which is plagued by violence, the only thing that the government does is persecute instead of taking care of Venezuelans’ real problems.
CNE Claims 226 Candidates Running in Regionals
The head of the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, announced last night that 226 candidates had been registered to run in the October elections. Lucena explained that there are on average 10 candidates running for the position of governor in each of the country’s 23 states, with Merida and Tachira leading the pack at 14 candidates each.
The regional elections were originally scheduled for December of last year, but were postponed without a clear explanation by the CNE. They were moved to December of this year until, by decree from the Constituent Assembly, they were moved again to October.
Lucena said yesterday that the election was moved to October “in the research of peace for the country”.
Diosdado Cabello Loses Libel Lawsuit Against Wall Street Journal
A New York federal court ruled today in favour of the Wall Street Journal in a libel case launched against the publication by Constituent Assembly member and PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello. Cabello sued the newspaper in 2016 after it published an article claiming that he was under investigation by US authorities for being involved in drug trafficking operations in Venezuela.
Cabello has repeatedly denied any involvement in the drug trade, and claimed in the lawsuit that he had suffered “enormous damage” to his “good name” as a result of the article. Cabello sued for libel, which in many common law jurisdictions such as the United States is the crime of publishing false information about an individual that is damaging to their reputation.
In issuing her decision, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest found that Cabello failed to prove that the story was false.
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