Jesus “Chuo” Torrealba, the former head of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD), voiced his harshest criticism of the opposition bloc during an interview that aired on the Globovision network earlier today, suggesting that the MUD was rudderless and at a loss at how to mount any kind of a challenge to the Maduro regime.

Torrealba, who was the head of the MUD from 2014 to 2016, is able to pinpoint the moment in time when the bloc lost all of its “tactics and politics”: the last two months of 2016. It was then, Torrealba explained, that the opposition’s challenge to the regime began to fall apart, lost in a maze of its own making.

On November 1 of 2016, as pressure mounted against the Maduro regime in the force of massive street protests, the MUD cancelled a highly-anticipated march to the Miraflores Palace that many believed might have resulted in the overthrowing of the Maduro regime. The march to Miraflores was cancelled despite the fact that the MUD had for weeks built up to the event through an increasingly rebellious rhetoric. For Torrealba, the fact that the build-up in resolve and anticipation resulted in nothing is evidence that the MUD had lost track of its own goals.

Torrealba suggested that the MUD was ultimately undone by its inability to carry out the expectations that it set out for itself. Referencing the opposition assertions that Venezuela had reached a do-or-die moment in mid-July, Torrealba argued that the MUD had led Venezuelans down a particular path only to abandon them there without explanation. Torrealba said:

[The MUD] told the Venezuelan people that the power of street protests was enough to put a stop to the Constituent [Assembly] and to achieve a transition away from the regime. During the July 3 address, [the MUD] told people: we are escalating the rebellion, this is a general uprising, zero hour, general strike. After that, the path that this firebrand rhetoric was taking was clear.

[These tactics] did not achieve their objectives, and now without assuming any kind of responsibility and providing an explanation [for abandoning those tactics, the MUD] is trying to move from that firebrand rhetoric to “‘vote for me in the regional elections’, and everyone that knows me that I’m in favour of electoral solutions”.

The decision to participate in the upcoming regional elections was a highly contentious decision by the MUD. The decision was widely criticized by many opposition supporters, who claim that taking part in what are likely to be rigged elections will do nothing but legitimize the Maduro regime.

Maduro’s Trip to Geneva Cancelled 

Just one day after announcing that Maduro would speak at next Monday’s meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, the Venezuelan government has issued a statement saying that the president will no longer participate in the event. Instead, foreign affairs minister Jorge Arreaza will speak at the September 11 meeting.

The Venezuelan diplomatic office in Geneva did not provide an explanation for the sudden change in plans.

Citing “diplomatic sources”, El Nacional reported today that some in the human rights council had privately expressed “shock and stupefaction” at yesterday’s announcement regarding Maduro’s visit, given his regime’s systemic and well-document human rights abuses.

Colombian Migration: We Must Help, Not Turn Out Backs, on Venezuelans

Christian Kruger Sarmiento, the head of Migracion Colombia [the Colombian migration agency], said during a press conference in Cartagena yesterday that the country should actively work towards helping Venezuelans fleeing the crisis, citing the neighbouring countries’ fraternal history.

Sarmiento said:

We cannot turn our backs on a country that for so many years gave shelter to our own citizens.

With his comment, Sarmiento was referencing the fact that Venezuela has historically been a type of refuge for Colombians fleeing the decades-long conflict that plagued the country until recently.

Sarmiento also took aim at Colombian critics who have called for a closure of the border with Venezuela in order to cut off the influx of migrants, saying:

Some have asked the Colombian government to close the border. To be honest, what I’m telling you today is that closing the border would only incentivize [illegal border crossing]. As a country, what we should do is look for tools that will allow us to integrate these foreigners into our society.

Saying that “each one of us has a role to play” in facing the Venezuelan migrant waves, Sarmiento suggested that business owners could hire Venezuelan migrants as a way of helping them get on their feet in Colombia.

Migracion Colombia estimates that anywhere between 300,000-350,000 Venezuelans have migrated to Colombia since 2010, and that last month alone saw a daily average of 2,000 Venezuelan migrants entering Colombia.

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

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