Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said through his Twitter account today that former attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz was “under protection” from the Colombian government, and that she would be granted asylum in the country were she to make the request.

Below, the president’s tweet:

Attorney general Luisa Ortega is under protection from the Colombian government. If she asks for asylum we will give it to her.

Ortega Diaz, a loyal chavista from the time Chavez appointed her attorney general in 2007 to earlier this year, was removed from her position on August 5 after becoming an outspoken critic of the Maduro regime. Facing mounting persecution from the authorities, Ortega Diaz fled the country along with her husband on August 19.

Santos’ comments offer clarity on Ortega Diaz’s legal status. Migration Colombia confirmed on August 19 that Ortega Diaz and her party had arrived in Bogota that day, and that they had filed the “corresponding papers” to enter the country. With his comment, Santos appears to have confirmed that Ortega Diaz did not immediately ask for asylum upon entering Colombia.

PSUV Condemns Santos’ Comment

The PSUV reacted to president Santos’ comments with fiery condemnation, attacking the government of the neighbouring nation for not representing the will of the Colombian people.

In a press conference, Jorge Rodriguez remarked that Colombia had accepted Ortega Diaz even though the PSUV had presented “irrefutable evidence” that she had been involved in criminal activities as attorney general. Rodriguez’s comment was in reference to the fact that PSUV vice president Diosdado Cabello presented evidence of Ortega Diaz’s alleged crimes at the Public Ministry last week.

Despite Rodriguez’s comments, Ortega Diaz has not been charged with any crimes, and the allegations made against her have not been proven.

Maduro Cancels Concerts After World-Renowned Conductor Speaks Out Against Regime

World-renowned orchestra conductor Gustavo Dudamel said today that he is “heartbroken” after Maduro ordered the cancellation of a set of concerts that were supposed to take place in September because of recent anti-regime comments that Dudamel has made in recent weeks.

The tour, which was scheduled to take place in the United States, would have seen children from the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela playing with Dudamel as their conductor.

Dudamel, who was born in Barquisimeto, is the director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra. As a high-profile Venezuelan living abroad, Dudamel was often maligned by Venezuelans for refusing to speak out against the Maduro regime’s abuses. That changed in early May, however, when Dudamel for the first time called for an end to the regime’s brutal repression of peaceful protests.

As recently as last week, Maduro showed resentment for Dudamel’s public stance, asking God to forgive him for denouncing his regime.

Dudamel responded to news of the cancelled concerts on his Twitter account, saying:

Chile Offers Help in Dialogue

The government of Chile has formally offered to help in a supposed dialogue between the opposition and the Maduro regime according to a statement from the country’s foreign affairs minister, Heraldo Muñoz.

In an interview published in Chile’s La Tercera, Muñoz said that Chile was working with several other countries in the region to push for a United Nations General Assembly meeting on the Venezuelan crisis, which could happen as early as September. The move follows the drafting of the Lima Declaration, a statement signed by the governments of 12 nations denouncing Maduro’s Constituent Assembly as illegitimate and voicing its support for the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

Only 11% of Country’s Radiotherapy Machines are Functional

El Nacional published an article today in which it pointed out that out of the 27 radiotherapy machines in Venezuelan hospitals, only 3 are operational. The shocking figures are a reminder that the medical crisis affecting the country goes beyond shortages of medicine.

The article revealed that a cancer patient needing to undergo radiotherapy can only do so in three hospitals in the entire country: the Antonio Maria Pineda hospital in Barquisimeto, Lara state, and the Domingo Luciani and Oncological Service hospitals in Caracas.

According to the newspaper, nearly 90% of the country’s radiotherapy machines are not working because the Maduro regime refuses to pay the Argentinian company in charge of their maintenance, Invap. The company’s technicians have not performed maintenance on the 27 units since February.

The effects that the shortage of machines has on individuals with cancer diagnoses are grim. Belkys Isturiz, who has been diagnosed with breast cancer and has yet to receive the radiotherapy that she needs, told El Nacional:

I had to go back to work because I don’t have any kind of medical leave that can show that I’m undergoing treatment. All I know is that while I wait for the results of my cancer prognosis, even though I’ve had an operation, it can come back. I live in fear.

Nacari Romero told the newspaper that her mother, Zoraida Melchor, was unable to start radiotherapy on schedule because the machine at her local hospital was broken. Melchor was placed on a two-month waiting list at another hospital where she was scheduled to begin treatment on August 14. However, that machine broke down on that same day, leaving Melchor without treatment.

Questions/Comments? E-mail me: invenezuelablog@gmail.com

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